Friday, December 30, 2011

Sharing God's love and joy!

What a wonderful season to celebrate our Lord!
It's been a very busy month for all of us here.
Full work and class schedules and lots of extra church activities,
and each one an opportunity to share the true Christmas Story
and what it can mean for everyone who will accept it.
Every school and class has a Christmas party
and never are we told that we cannot share
that Christmas is the celebration of Jesus' birth.
We tell the story and toast Him and sing Happy Birthday to Him.

Santa greets each individual and gives them a candy cane and/or a Bible.
We share that the reason presents are given is because of His birth.

Santa loves Jesus so much he wants everyone to know about Him!

As members from area churches gather
in front of Nagano Station to sing carols,
Santa joins in offering joy and bringing smiles
to many otherwise harried passersby.
When he offers them a small gift they are so excited!

Many stop and listen to the singing
and you can see the peace and joy it brings them for at least a moment
as they slow down to hear the songs of His birth
and some even join in and sing along.

Our small church here holds Christmas Eve candlelight service every year.
The first hour is filled with amazing voices from the choral group 'Canto Kiara'.

The group is led by a local Buddist priest
and he tells the story of each song and its relation to the stories in the Bible.

Each person lights a candle and the story of Jesus birth is told
with several people having been chosen to read the parts.

After the candlelight service at church
we had a little surprise birthday celebration at our house.
Sarah, a young woman from Australia
who worked with Ian at the ski resort two years ago,
was shocked to see Santa there to sing her happy birthday!

Being so far from home,
Ian and a few others wanted to make her day special
so they took her out to eat,
then brought her home for surprise cake, ice cream
and a special gift they all went together to get her.
I'm sure my cake wasn't like her Mom's would have been
but I think she was happy with it still.

On our Christmas morning we got the special gift of a video chat
with Heather, Daeon, Tony and their families
as they were all together on their Christmas Eve!!!
It was a most special gift!

After a full Christmas day of morning and afternoon church
and finishing up all the cooking in between,
we hosted a traditional Christmas dinner for several of Ian's friends
and a couple of ours, too.

Everyone enjoyed the food and the fellowship.

Several new tastes for most them

It was our first Christmas in three years to be here with Ian.
The past three he was working and we were in Tokyo
watching Zack play in the national high school basketball tournament.
We certainly missed having Zack here with us this year.
Talking on the phone isn't quite the same.
Still it was so wonderful to share the day with Ian and friends.

We hope each of you had an amazing Christmas filled with love and joy.
We thank you all for your prayers,
love and support of every kind that makes all we do here possible.
Wishing you a very wonderful new year!

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