Our first two Christmases

A couple of weeks have passed, and many preparations have been made. I’m jumping forward in time a bit, as most of my weeks look pretty similar, and by now, you all know the drill. So, I will now focus on some special events. Now that December has begun, many special events will be in the following few blog entries. In my last blog post, I talked about being amid preparing for FOUR Christmas parties. Well, now we already celebrated three times. In this blog post, I will write about the first two parties from the weekend of the 2nd and 3rd of December. The first party was just for the ministry students. On the 2nd of September, the students from Fukuoka and Miyazaki came to Tokyo again, and we met at 10 to start our ministry school. This time, we read the books of Titus, Philemon and Hebrews and learned Psalm 103:1-5 by heart. So, we took these tests and learned more about these three books from Naomi.

Then we ate our lunch. We prepared Onigiri (Rice balls with a filling) for everyone and offered some Bananas, Kimchi and other snacks.

Then we ate our lunch. We prepared Onigiri (Rice balls with a filling) for everyone and offered some Bananas, Kimchi and other snacks. In the afternoon, Christian talked about tithing, offerings, and helping those in need. In the evening, they sent us out to evangelise. At the same time, Christian, Naomi and Yuka remained back in church to prepare the Christmas dinner. After about 30 minutes of singing and talking to people near the train station, Christian came to tell us that we should return to the church now.

A lovely smell and many foods welcomed us. We quickly helped set the tables and brought the food from the kitchen to create an extensive buffet. We then prayed to bless the food and toasted to a merry Christmas. We chatted and laughed while eating pizza, chicken, croquettes, takoyaki, and much more. We all had a great time and enjoyed the time we could spend together.

When we all stuffed ourselves, we cleaned everything up and gathered again for a final Ministry School session. The time to share our Tehila song has come. But before we started sharing our songs, Naomi played the Piano. At the same time, we all prayed to invite the Holy Spirit into this worship session. Then we finally started. Everyone prepared great songs, and we were really able to see everyone’s own character in their song, but also how God had inspired such different melodies and lyrics that touched everyone’s hearts. It was a touching experience, and even though I was very nervous to create such a song, I am glad and blessed to have been a part of it.

We ended the day with a gift exchange. Everyone was supposed to buy snacks or something sweet for a specific budget, then we formed a circle, and while singing a song, we passed on the gifts to our neighbours. When the song was finished, everyone could keep the gift they were currently holding. I received some snacks and cookies from Miyazaki! We then said our goodbyes and headed back. Llyza, Maho, and I decided we deserved a little treat after such a long day, so we went to the nearby Onsen. It was open until Midnight, so we still had an hour left to relax before we finally went home to get some good night’s rest.

On Sunday morning, we all left early to go to church. Yuka and Maho were in the worship team. Llyza and I were in charge of lunch, and I was also preparing the Christmas cake for the student’s Christmas party. In the morning sermon, Christian talked about how we can become more like our heavenly father; for lunch, Llyza prepared an Indonesian vegetable and pork stir fry, and I made a potato sausage soup that we paired with rice. During the lunch break, I also finished the cake, and Anna and I went out to buy some last-minute gifts for the Icebreaker game. Then in the afternoon service, Christian talked about becoming soldiers, and when the service was over, for the first time since I was here, we didn’t have much time to talk to one another. The “grown-ups” were asked to leave and do their sharing circle at a nearby café or restaurant. Only the students, Christian, Naomi, Yuka, Shinri, and I remained in the church.

Christian and Naomi stayed, of course, because they were sharing a message during the Christmas party. Shinri helped by playing the drums, Yuka helped with the food, and I also helped a little. Still, I also counted as a student and was asked to make as many friends as possible and keep inviting them to church and the Waseda Bible Café. Soon, the first guests started to arrive, and quickly, the room was filled with Anna’s, Zion’s, Yuri’s, and Yukie’s friends. We started the party with an icebreaker game. We all received some candy, and then we had to play rock paper scissors with people around us. The loser had to give one candy to the winner, and then we would do a little self-introduction: Name, where I live, and Favourite Christmas present I have received.

After a few minutes, we stopped the game, and everyone counted their candy while returning to our seats. We then sang some worship songs, and Christian gave a Christmas message about Jesus, our hope, being born. After the message, we split into sharing groups to hear what others received during the service. With this, it was essential that there would be at least one Jesus’s Call member in every group in case one of the first comers had questions. Before we could finally start eating, we were surprised by a magic show from one of Zion’s friends. We were all fascinated by his card tricks and how he could seemingly read our minds. He finished the show using an entire deck to give us a quick run-through from Adam and Eve to Jesus’s birth. It was crazy how the cards would always add up to match the story. After we finally set the table.

There were so many foods, snacks, and desserts no one knew where to begin. I tried to talk to as many people as I possibly could. Luckily, some were comfortable in English, so whenever I got too tired trying to speak Japanese, I would flee to talk to these people before going back to another person who only spoke Japanese. I made many new friends and even planned to meet some of them again! It was great fun, and when Christian and Naomi said it was time to leave, no one really wanted to go.

At last, we managed to get everyone to go back home while a few remained to clean the church. Yuka told me to leave without her as she wanted to stay longer to clean and do other work-related things. So, I grabbed my things and returned home, happy about this great party but tired from so much Japanese.