Christmas in Japan - メリークリスマス

(Read all the way through for the best gift of all!) Our first Christmas in Japan was very full and more blessed than we could have anticipated. Our festivities started with Christmas Eve services at church. Thanks to grandma and grammie the girls had brand new matching Christmas dresses complete with new headbands, furry jackets, tights, shoes, and hand muffs.

Christmas morning started off like many Christmases from years past, but with a new twist. There was French toast baking in oven, presents stacked high waiting for the girls to come dashing in, and the computer and iPad set up for our family to be a part of all the fun.  Even though we are thankful for technology, it doesn't replace the real thing.

(Click here to watch the video of Abbi and Ryli opening the doors to their Christmas surprise)

The fun didn't stop there. The girls had a Christmas party at their day care.  After all the presents were opened we rushed off to the school, leaving behind an explosion of fun and presents.

We battled colds last week and Dan was the last to get sick. It was getting worse for him, so with gentle nudging we went to the doctors Christmas Day. Thankfully we got out in time to enjoy a quick lunch date at a yummy bakery.

A good friend and fellow missionary joined us for a traditional American Christmas dinner with all the trimmings.  We also got to talk with our brother and sis in Africa.  Then we snuggled up, watched a Christmas movie, and enjoyed some sweet moments.

But the best gift of all...

We used to see Yoshie, a employee of the 100 Yen shop, about two to three times a week. She was always so kind to me. Typically I would hold up my phone and try to say what I was looking for.  Then she would walk me to the item I was searching for. For 3 weeks we have gone looking for her, but she hasn't been there. Finally just 2 days before Christmas Eve we went and she was there. We brought her some Christmas cookies and in Japanese I told her I have been coming a lot but I haven't seen her. We were almost done with our shopping when I remembered that I forgot to give her the Christmas Eve flyer for church. I ran back, found her,  fumbled through my little Japanese and invited her to come.

To my surprise Monday night Yoshie was at church, and she brought her daughter, 15 years old, and daughter's two friends! Everyone at service got a New Testament and a couple smaller books describing creation, sin, salvation, and the Hope and Love found in Jesus.  I sat with her during service and after she told me this was her, her daughter's, and daughter's friends' first time to church!  She said she felt happy and it was fun.  We even talked with a friend from church and said we would do tea time together. I'm hoping to write about that in a future post.

I can't explain why I had an affection towards Yoshie versus the other women at the store, but now I can only guess it was the Holy Spirit's prompting. I barely knew this woman but God brought us together now. I am in awe of God and what He can do with a little Japanese and a lot of love.