Sunday, December 14, 2014

December- Part 1

December in Japan 

Takashimaya department store at the Nagoya Train Station put together this amazing & extremely detailed winter holiday display. It definitely brought about that "childhood wonder" that is so sought after during the holiday season. 
This is the gigantic Christmas tree in downtown Kyoto. The lights were synced with music and it was this amazing musical production. The Japanese definitely know how to put on a light show!
The majority of Japanese have never heard about Jesus but they sing songs about his birth during Christmas. They sing hymns like "O Holy Night" and "Silent Night" while shopping in the mall with no clue as to the meaning behind these beautiful words. This burdens our hearts but it also encourages them because it provides a huge opportunity to share & explain the story of Jesus' birth!

New Family Christmas Traditions - Advent

Because we are living in a culture that celebrates Christmas in a completely secular & materialistic way, we decided to do things a little different this year. We found a simple tree & the kids decorated it with a few homemade ornaments as it is a fun & harmless tradition but we chose to set our focus on the season of Advent. We started the day after Thanksgiving by reading from our daily devotional book every evening & using an Advent children's book & calendar with the kids. We want to teach our children to cherish Jesus above cultural holiday traditions which is a lot harder than you may think. Culture has seeped into this Christian celebration in every way possible. It is a hard battle to keep your eyes on Jesus. We want to share with our friends & neighbors that Christmas is about celebrating the much anticipated birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Messiah!!

Language Exchange Group- Exciting News!

Katharine & Hiroko took a chance to share the story of Jesus' birth, "the true meaning of Christmas", with the ladies in their Language Exchange group. They started off by making Christmas cookies & then Hiroko read the Nativity story to everyone in Japanese from the Jesus Storybook Bible! 
The Lord really blessed this opportunity & used it to draw one of the families to our local church, Mustard Seed Christian Church! She is asking a lot of questions & is truly seeking to learn more about Jesus. Hiroko gave her a Japanese Bible & she has been reading it to her children every night! Please keep this family in your prayers!! 

Building New Relationships

Katharine has been given so many opportunities to make new friends the last few months. She has been invited into their homes & treated with so much kindness & respect. Abigail's Christian kindergarten puts on a Christmas Pageant every year and Katharine was invited to participate in the parent choir performance during the pageant! During choir rehearsal Katharine learned to sing "Silent Night" and "Let It Go" (from the movie Frozen) in Japanese. Hannah & Abigail were very impressed!
After their choir practices several of the ladies would gather together for lunch & invited Katharine to join them. She is grateful for these opportunities to move out of her comfort zone & to be surrounded by women who only speak to her in Japanese. 

Christmas Angel Event 

Katharine took the girls to the Christmas Angel event hosted by our church, Mustard Seed Christian Church. This special event was designed as a way to share the story of Jesus' birth to children.
 Our sweet friend, Yukie, who is also a seminary student at Christ Bible Seminary, dressed as an Angel and shared the good news of Jesus' birth in Japanese. There were many families who attended & heard about Jesus for the first time in a way that they could understand. How exciting is that?! We feel so honored to be apart of a church that is reaching out & sharing the Good News with such boldness!! God is being glorified!!
Will you pray for our friend, Yukie Ida, as she lives to honor God & serve Him in Japan. There are very few Japanese Christian women who attend seminary & live as a missionary! She is raising support to serve at CBI & at Mustard Seed Church. If you are interested in supporting her you can go here and select the Nagoya Project and then select Yukie Ida. We are so grateful for her faith and courage to honor the Lord in Japan!

Abigail's Christmas Pageant 

Abigail attends a private Christian kindergarten. Only 8 out of 50 families that attend the "youchien" proclaim to be Christians. What an amazing opportunity they have to present the story of the birth of Jesus to so many people!! The teachers & children spent weeks putting together & practicing for this adorable Christmas Pageant! Abigail played the part of an inn keeper that turned Mary & Joseph away. She did a fantastic job & her Japanese was perfect!! We are so proud of our little inn keeper!!
This is Abigail's class- she is the only girl!! They performed their little performance with all their hearts- it's pretty adorable! I wish you could of heard them live but this video will have to suffice!

Care Packages!!

Receiving a care package from home is such an exciting experience! Opening a package full of goodies is such a tangible way for us to "feel"  that we are thought of, cared for, supported, & loved. We have received several amazing care packages from our parents over the last 5 months as well as this "pumpkin themed" package from two lovely friends from The Village Church (pictured above). 
The Denison Forum team put together an incredible package full of goodies for the kids & for us too! Each item was thoughtful & very useful for our life here in Japan! You won't find some of the "Christian" resources that they included in the package such as nativity scene stickers & Happy Birthday Jesus activity packs here in Japan so it was really exciting for us to receive these items! They also sent the kids an advent calendar & Christmas craft projects. We are incredibly grateful for their box of blessings!! 
Katharine's mom also sent several boxes full of Christmas gifts for the kids- she spoiled them rotten!!! Thank you friends & family for showing us your love in such a tangible way! 

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