Thursday December 17th, 2009
Every year Mt. Haruna and Lake Haruna are decorated with bright lights to celebrate the Christmas holiday and New Year to come. We were able to take a trip up the the mountain to look. It was beautiful. I have to say it was extremely cold, but worth the trip. It was a great
experience to see a winter festival in Japan. We were able to enjoy some special foods also. Then Obata-san purchases tickets for all of us to ride the cable car to the top of one of the peaks of Mt. Haruna. From the top you could see the entire display and the city of Takasaki lit up as well. It was a lot of fun and we look forward to seeing it again next year.
Wednesday December 23rd, 2009
On December 23rd we were able to join Haruna church of Christ’s 5th annual Christmas concert. Six years ago Obata-san met Odawara-sensei and he told her about a dream. A dream to offer a beautiful musical concert to the community in Haruna. He would invite the people into the building to share a night of music and hopefully they would come back to see more about how a Christian worships God. This year we had a great response. We offered a children’s concert in the afternoon. Obata-san read them a Christmas story, and then we sang a few Christmas songs together. And then Odawara-sensei (violin & viola), Sekimoto-sensei (bassoon), and Yamaya-sensei (piano) played a few songs for the children. It was wonderful. Then that evening the rest of the people joined us. We sang a few Christmas songs together and a few Christian songs. Obata-san gave a short sermon to the audience and then everyone enjoyed the music. We had a lot of people talk to us and a few said that they wanted to come back to our Wednesday evening classes.
Thursday December 24th, 2009
It’s Christmas Eve! We were excited for our first Christmas in Japan. First thing that morning we went to the kindergarten and sang a few Christmas carols with them and then sang a few Christian songs for them. We enjoyed seeing the kids and we enjoyed singing for them. It was a great start to our Christmas. We knew it would be different today, but to make it feel like we were in the US, we did what most people do on Christmas eve… we went to the mall! We had fun looking around and we found some good food and a nice arcade. Then we headed home. We hoped it wouldn't be too difficult for us to be away from family. With today’s technology we we were able to stay in touch with family and even with Skype sit in on their opening presents. It was wonderful. We still missed being at home and we knew there was something missing.
Friday December 25th, 2009
I have to say Christmas morning didn’t have the same excitement with it, this year. We always look forward to Christmas morning, but this year it probably could have passed by with out us thinking too much about it. Most of the Japanese don’t celebrate Christmas like we do in the US. Although we personally don’t believe the Bible teaches us to celebrate this as a religious holiday, we have always found this time of year to be a good time to talk to people about Christ. The ideas, and image of God are everywhere in America. In Japan it really is a different world. The basic ideals and traditions of Christianity are completely absent from the Japanese culture. Slowly Western traditions are being accepted, but many only as commercial holidays. However, we did try our hardest to spread a little Christmas cheer. We baked some oatmeal raisin and chocolate cookies for a few neighbors and went house to house with a “Merry Christmas” and a plate full of cookies! Then we went back home and enjoyed opening the fun gifts we bought for each other along with a present from the Obata’s and a care package from America .
It was a quiet day, but we enjoyed it and made it our new Christmas tradition! And we were looking forward to Saturday’s party!