December was, as usual, insanely busy (I attended a record three separate Christmas Eve services on the 24th) but lots of fun. Here are some photos:
|Angels under the gingko trees at Luther High School.|
|The Advent setup at Kuwamizu Lutheran Church.|
|Star lantern (made from paper!) hanging from the rafters right over the stable at Kuwamizu.|
|Annual International English Christmas pageant, starring Katie as Mary and Baby Jun as Jesus!|
|Seniors heading up to campus after having caroled through the neighborhood since 5:30am, looking forward to a breakfast of hot pork soup and rice balls!|
The sermon at the 9:30pm International English Christmas Eve service was once again delivered by a former J-3 who still lives and works in Kumamoto (and whose kids come to our International English Sunday School), and he delivered a particularly moving message about how we often use Christmas as a reason to be (or expect others to be) more generous or kinder or more patient than usual--but that's not the point of Christmas at all! Rather, Christmas celebrates the light appearing in the darkness, the light of Jesus Christ our Savior, who gives us hope that we carry all year round.
There are less than three months left in my J-3 tenure, and the future after this spring is still murky for me. But if there's anything I've learned in my time as a J-3, it's that God knows exactly where He's leading us, and our job is to listen, obey, and trust in His perfect love, even when we don't understand--a lesson much more tangibly felt in a land where the language is not your own! May we all walk in His light this year.
“Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth
and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you
and his glory appears over you."
Isaiah 60:1-2 (NIV)