Konnichi wa Kazoku to Tomodachi,
Merry Christmas from Japan!!! Christmas on a mission is a bit different than in the states. For example, last night during Christmas Eve we were out on the streets talking to people about Christmas. Tonight we have a lesson with one of our investigators. So, missionary work doesn't really stop. But, sharing the joy of Christ is the best thing we could be doing on Christmas, so I don't mind. Do I miss my family? Of course. I just got off of a 40 minute phone call with them (that's all we get) and was reminded at how incredible they are. But, as a missionaries, we have the opportunity to give up just a small portion of our life and give 100% of our time and efforts to the Lord.
Notes on the Week
- Christmas Party: Last Saturday was the branch Christmas party and was incredible!!! About 75 people showed up, including 10 of our English class students and a few of the members who have fallen away from the church. The children put on a Christmas play, the college age kids made it Hawaiian themed by doing a Christmas-Hawaiian dance, and the branch showed a few of the church-produced Christmas videos.
- Highlight of the Christmas Party: While the entire night was memorable, the highlight was the closing song, "Silent Night." Towards the very end of the program, I had to give up my seat to someone else, so I got to stand in the back and observe everyone when the closing song started. As soon as the song began, I felt a feeling of pure joy and peace flow into my heart. I switched off between singing and simple observing. The sweet joy of Christmas filled that Japanese church building. Could I understand the meaning of any of what everyone was singing? Not at all. But, the language of the Spirit (God's love) is universal. The Spirit transcends past any language and into any heart if we let it. It's not always easy in the busy world we live in today, but we can feel God's love if we listen.
- The "Performance": This past Tuesday we had the opportunity to go to a retirement home and put on a little Christmas performance! I was on a dinky keyboard and the other three missionaries were singing. While the actual skill level of all of us was questionable, it seemed like the crowd enjoyed it! The other three missionaries were in Santa suits and handed out Christmas presents to them all at the end.
Video and Invitation for the Week
Amidst the joy of the holiday season, some one always gets left out. Whether it is that family member who doesn't seem to quite fit in with his family, the person who doesn't really have any family to celebrate with, or simply the person who struggles to feel loved, someone always misses out on the holiday joy. Well, my challenge this week is to reach out to that person in need; to look for and find that friend or family member who might be struggling. Simply talk to them and help them feel included. If that means you missing out on part of the fun and simply talking to them off to the side, so be it. That's the true meaning of Christmas.
If you are someone who struggles, I plea with you to reach out to your Savior, Jesus Christ. He is there and understands you perfectly. He wants to help. He is patiently waiting. Recognizing His influence can be difficult at times, but He is there.
Here is a link that describes the role of our Savior. Whether you believe in Him or not, I invite you to scroll through it.
Pictures for the Week
1. At the branch Christmas party, Elder Tschirki and I were the Santas that everyone took pictures with! The lady in the picture is an 84 year old incredible lady who joined the church a few months ago. It's never too late!
2. Volleyball activity with the YSA and investigators
3. Taken at the retirement center (see above).
I love you all!!!
Elder Kevin Cash Colton