Monday, December 23, 2013

Hey Everyone! 

Merry Christmas! I hope you all are ready for it! It's coming up quick. I'm really excited for Christmas this year. It's been a lot of fun getting ready for it this year. 

Seeing as how I'm in Japan, there are lots of opportunities to teach people about that meaning of Christmas: why we celebrate it, how we celebrate it, the meanings behind all the different traditions. I've had several opportunities to put to use a story my family reads every year for Christmas called "Teach the Children." It's a simple story that teaches about all the symbolism behind Christmas. It's a great story, so I recommend you take a look at it. I'll paste it to the end of this week's email so you can read it if you want. Anyways, the reason I've had so many opportunities to use it is that there are so many people that have no idea Christmas has any relation to Jesus Christ. Even if they do, nobody I have met yet knows that all the lights, the trees, etc are all symbolic of Christ. We had a dinner appointment at a member's home, and they invited all the missionaries in Kichijoji. The Sister misionaries brought an investigator, and I shared the spiritual thought. I used "Teach the Children", and it turned out really well. The Sisters' investigator had no idea that Christmas was so deeply rooted in the birth of Christ. This last Saturday was the Kichijoji Ward Christmas party, and the ward mission leader asked us to prepare some sort of presentation we could put up in the foyer as people walk in. Elder Fukuchi and I worked together on it and made a slideshow that looped. We made a slide for each of the symbols from "Teach the Children", and then shuffled them in amongst all the other slides (our church meeting schedule, information on upcoming ward activities, pictures of Jesus, etc). It was a really nice touch to the party. 

Speaking of the Christmas party, it went really well. Lots of members brought friends, and quite a few investigators came as well. There's a member in the Kichijoji Ward, Brian, who is from Zimbabwe. He's here in Japan going to college (studying sociology) until summer next year. And he's albino. It's pretty trippy. He shows you his family pictures, and his family is completely black, and then Brian is just sitting there with his white hair and pasty white skin. He's a way cool guy. Anyways, he was a total baller and brought a friend with him to the Christmas Party. His friend, Nickson, is also studying at the same school, and Brian invited Nickson to the Christmas Party. Nickson is a really nice guy. Brian explained alot about our church to him, and Nickson had lots of good questions, and he seemed to thoroughly enjoy himself at the party. 

Well, that's about it for this week. Sorry it's kinda short. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas! Enjoy it and be sure to have an extra cup of hot chocolate for me!

Merry Christmas!

Elder Blake

Teach the Children

Just a week before Christmas I had a visitor. This is how it happened...I just
finished the household chores for the night and was preparing to go to bed, when I
heard a noise in the front of the house. I opened the door to the front room and to
my surprise, Santa himself stepped out from behind the Christmas tree. He placed
his finger over his mouth so I would not cry out.

"What are you doing?" I started to ask. The words choked up in my throat, and I
saw he had tears in his eyes. His usual jolly manner was gone. Gone was the eager,
boisterous soul we all know. He then answered me with a simple statement.

I was puzzled; what did he mean? He anticipated my question, and with one quick
movement brought forth a miniature toy bag from behind the tree. As I stood
bewildered, Santa said, "Teach the children! Teach them the old meaning of
Christmas. The meaning that nowadays Christmas has forgotten."

Santa then reached in his bag and pulled out a FIR TREE and placed it before the
mantle. "Teach the children that the pure green color of the stately fir tree remains
green all year round, depicting the everlasting hope of mankind, all the needles
point heavenward, making it a symbol of man's thoughts turning toward heaven."

He again reached into his bag and pulled out a brilliant STAR. "Teach the children
that the star was the heavenly sign of promises long ago. God promised a Savior for
the world, and the star was the sign of fulfillment of His promise."

He then reached into his bag and pulled out a CANDLE. "Teach the children that
the candle symbolizes that Christ is the light of the world, and when we see this
great light we are reminded of He who displaces the darkness."

Again he reached into his bag, removed a WREATH, and placed it on the tree.
Teach the children that the wreath symbolizes the real nature of love. Real love
never ceases. Love is one continuous round of affection."

He then pulled from his bag an ornament of HIMSELF. "Teach the children that I,
Santa Claus, symbolize the generosity and good will we feel during the month of

He then brought out a HOLLY LEAF. "Teach the children that the holly plant
represents immortality. It represents the crown of thorns worn by our Savior. The
red holly represents the blood shed by Him."

Next he pulled from his bag a GIFT and said, "teach the children that God so loved
the world that he gave His only begotten Son... " "Thanks be to God for his
unspeakable gift. Teach the children that the wise men bowed before the holy babe
and presented him with gold, frankincense and myrrh. We should always give gifts
in the same spirit of the wise men."

Santa then reached in his bag, pulled out a CANDY CANE, and hung it on the tree.
"Teach the children that the candy cane represents the shepherds' crook. The crook
on the staff helps to bring back strayed sheep to the flock. The candy cane is the
symbol that we are our brother's keeper."

He reached in again and pulled out an ANGEL. "Teach the children that it was the
angels that heralded in the glorious news of the Savior's birth. The angels sang
'Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace and good will toward men,"

Suddenly I heard a soft twinkling sound, and from his bag, he pulled out a BELL.
"Teach the children that as the lost sheep are found by the sound of the bell, it
should ring mankind to the fold. The bell symbolizes guidance and return.

Santa looked back and was pleased. He looked back at me and I saw that the
twinkle was back in his eyes. He said, "Remember, teach the children the true
meaning of Christmas and do not put me in the center, for I am but a humble
servant of the One that is, and I bow down to worship Him, our Lord, our God."


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