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Christmas Open House

Christmas Coffee House Invitations

Well, actually we called it the "Christmas Coffee House" since they would not know what an open house is all about. Just a few days before Saturday, Zack and Ellie helped put the invitations in our neighbors' mailboxes. I began by thanking them for being such good neighbors, and how much we've enjoyed being here for 4 months now. I said, "As an expression of our appreciation, we would like to have a Christmas Coffee House...", and that they could come for 10 minutes or 2 hours, and that I would have "American snacks" ready for them. On Saturday morning, a few of them let me know that they would not be able to come, so I was a bit bummed. Then a couple more regrets came. Jeff and I thought, well, if just a few people show up, then that's fine, since we prayed for God to send the people of His will.

Genkan Full of Shoes

This is the sight that missionaries in Japan love to see! The "genkan" is the place where you take off your shoes before entering the home. We are happy to tell you that we had a genkan full of shoes!! We started off with one family from Ellie's school. And then a our landlord's daughter and husband. And then a brand new couple from across the street. And then about 20 came all at once after that! The total? 14 adults and 16 kids, including us.

Genkan full of shoes
Sign of New Friendships: A genkan full of shoes

Standing Room Only

Just to give you an idea of what 30 people in a Japanese home is like...

Our house is a bit larger than 800 square feet. It's a 2 story house, so 400 sq. feet are downstairs and 400 are upstairs, and that is divided into 3 bedrooms. There literally was standing room only. When the 14 kids showed up, they all stormed upstairs in a frenzy. Jeff and I gulped and wondered what would happen to our kids' stuff, the bunkbed,and how Zack and Ellie would respond. They were absolute troopers! Zack played Uno with the group of Japanese boys (no language required except for colors and UNO!). Ellie had her friend from her school, so she was as happy as could be. Except for the time when 3 of the boys climbed into the upper closet and were jumping out of it, it remained a pretty controlled chaos without any major injuries or damage!

Standing room only
15 kids in Zack and Ellie's room
Standing room only

American Snacks

I advertized "American" snacks, so I had to deliver, right? Costco came to my rescue. I had just gone a couple of days before, so I served tortilla chips with guacamole and salsa, Christmas colored Peanut M & M's, various muffins, cookies, and of course, "Ants on a Log". Yup. The famous peanut butter and raisins on celery sticks. I know to you guys it sounds so plain and simple, but to our Japanese guests, they were a hit! They had never had that strange combination before, so they were thrilled with it. Most had never eaten guacamole, so they thought it was very unique.

American snacks at our Christmas party

Christmas Carols

Jeff and I were thrilled that we actually had the opportunity to sing some Christmas songs with the group. Before the guests arrived, I said, "I have NO idea what the atmosphere will be like, if we'll even have the chance to hand out the music and sing...we'll just have to play it by ear." Well, when we saw that no one was leaving, we took the opportunity to call all the kids downstairs, and sing songs proclaiming the birth of Jesus. When I asked the group of kids, "Who knows the reason we celebrate Christmas?", not one hand went up. Not one Japanese child knew. In the States, some kid in a group would always yell, "It' Jesus' birthday!" It was sad, but it was also great motivation for the work ahead of us. So of course, I took the chance to tell them that Jesus is God and King, and we are celebrating His birth.

Christmas carols

After the singing, one of the moms came up to me and said, "So are both of you Christians?" After I told her yes, she proceeded to tell me that a friend of hers had just become a believer. I told her that if she and her friends are ever interested in studying the Bible, that I'd love to have them come and do that. She laughed her head off and said that this group was just at church that very morning (there was a kids' program there), but the moms all fell asleep during the Bible message! I smiled and laughed with her, thinking how FUN it would be to see God do amazing things in all of these moms' hearts!!

Visions of Church

Jeff said something neat after all the guests had gone home. He said, "When we were handing out the song sheets to everyone tonight, I envisioned that THIS is what our home church would look like! With all the moms and a couple of dads, and a bunch of kids, all singing together..."

Pray for this VISION to become REALITY!

Jeff's Posts


Jeff's column offers a mix of reflections on leadership and fatherhood, as well as news from Asian Access.


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Nozomi's Posts


Nozomi's column contains reflections on motherhood, Japanese culture, and ministry.


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Zack's Posts


Zack's column provides a variety of glimpses into what makes him tick.


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Ellie's Posts


Ellie's column is coming soon...


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