So great to talk to you on Christmas. I have loved spending Christmas here, and really feel like I've had a chance to think about what it really means.
Yesterday on Christmas day after I talked to you, we went to a member's house for Christmas dinner and afterwards to visit her husband in the hospital. Her husband isn't a member of the church but has diabetes and is constantly needing extensive treatments and wound up in the hospital on Christmas Eve when he fell down. I had never talked to her husband before, but we accompanied her to the hospital and waited about an hour in the waiting room until he was stable enough to have visitors. We planned to just sing him a Christmas carol, but when we finally got in the room, he just looked up, gave us one glance and then quickly did this motion shewing us away. I could tell he was tired, and my companion, I could tell, was wondering too why we came, and the nurses seemed a little embarrassed and walked us out just as fast as we had walked in. It was really interesting. But earlier that day I read a talk by Elder Holland called "Christmas Within You" and he had a similar experience on his mission in England. He knocks doors all day and is wet and cold and he says, "for such an uneventful Christmas the least festive of any I ever had before or since, those special days in December of 1960 remain in my heart, as one of the sweetest Christmases I have ever had. I think that is because for the first time in my life, I found myself understanding Christmas rather than just enjoying it. I think for the first time in any truly significant way, I was getting the message of Christ's birth and life- His message and His mission and His sacrifice for others."
I feel like Elder Holland did in a way, being here I do finally really get it, Christmas is about doing good to others and looking for the good in every situation as he says. In Japan Christmas to most people is just a holiday for eating chicken and cake. But I know that Christmas really is all about your heart. And It doesn't matter how our gifts are received really, just that we have an open heart that is willing to give. That's what we can give to Christ. I love this scripture, Luke 17:21 that says, "the kingdom of God is WITHIN YOU". It's true!!
I loved Christmas in Japan. To celebrate we all gathered together as a mission. There are almost 200 missionaries in Tokyo. They all really feel like my family! We had a white elephant gift exchange that looked more like a mosh pit because there were so many people! And theBudge's entertained us it seemed like all day with music and even their home videos. My friends, Elder Koakley, Bame, Countryman and Igai sang together. Elder Koakley is from the Big Island and played the uke and Elder Igai played the guitar. I love singing! I forgot how much I love it. The best is seeing the look on people's faces when you sing to them and their face relaxes into a smile and they start like nodding their head and you can just tell they are connecting with the music and feeling happy. Music is so great in that it can really pull you into the present and make you feel like you're right where you need to be.
At night we went Kubaring with the Elders at a close by train station, just passing out flyers forEkaiwa, our free English classes. I met three new people today who I think have a lot of interest! It was a Christmas miracle! And I met a lady on the train too who had four children and I could tell she was an artist from all the color she and her children were wearing. I shared my testimony and gave her the Book of Mormon and told her that it had changed my life and that she can read it whenever she needs help and she will feel peace.
I know that this is the Lord's work and I just feel happy to be a part of it! The mission is the absolute best! We just get to meet friends everyday and invite them to learn about the best part of our lives. The best part about life is that it never ends, and when we mess up, we're not stuck that way, we can choose to make a change, and Christ will help us. When we fall into a pit, Christdoesn't just throw a rope down for us to hang on to. He climbs down to where we are, and carries us on his back.
This week has been so fun and so many people have shown us kindness. My ward too we had a Christmas party and I feel like they are all my family. The children made "gingerbread houses" but I'm pretty sure they could be professional wedding cakes. They were so much fancier then our American versions.
Anyway I love you all and you all looked GREAT! You are all so beautiful! I especially lovedChaichan's sweet little face. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world to have such a special family.
Love you all!