This was our first Christmas away from our families this year…actually our first Christmas spent in another country. It has definitely been a sobering Christmas season, but has also brought us new experiences and blessings.
On Christmas Eve we went caroling at a train station near our church and parked ourselves in front of Starbucks. A strategic move I would say. We went with about 8 other people from our church and sang some Christmas carols in Japanese and English while handing out candy canes. We were able to catch the attention of a group of high school boys and some other young people. They were interested in seeing why a couple of foreigners and Japanese were singing together.
On Christmas day we woke up up took our first train ride to church in the snow! Most of our Japanese friends told us that it does not usually snow in Nagoya until January. I felt like God was blessing us with a white Christmas this year because it felt a little bit like Christmas day in Kansas.
During Church we were truly blessed by experiencing God’s global church singing praises about the coming of Christ. The Christmas message was also about how most people in Japan equate Christmas with Santa Claus and gift giving. A traditional Japanese Christmas includes KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken? you might ask, we are not sure why, but KFC must have done some killer marketing because now Japanese people associate Christmas with good old KFC) and an expensive Christmas cake. Christmas is usually considered a Western holiday, but the Japanese have started to recognize Christmas except that the birth of Jesus is left out.
On Christmas night we had our Japanese friends and some team mates over for dinner. We had a great time deepening relationships and celebrating Christmas for the first time in Japan with new friends.