Ricky and Julie on Christmas morning.
Mom and daughter. Erika is doing well in Sapporo. We talked with her on Friday morning (the day after Christmas).
Christmas afternoon was spent playing at the church and watching movies. The missionaries had a nice relaxing preparation day and set up for our special Christmas program, dinner and baptismal service Christmas evening. On Christmas night in Kobe, we had a nice spiritual program with all the missionaries and some of our friends taking lessons from the missionaries. Then we had a Christmas feast at the church. We had a big turkey, ham, desserts, salads, etc. I think everyone was very full by the end. After dinner, we started our baptismal service. Above is a picture of the elders (Rassmusen, Bohman and Fa'aleilei) with Zhou-san who was baptized. Above is Sister Rasario Nishiura who was also baptized and the elders from Kakogawa, Remund and Payne. Rosario asked that I perform the baptism for her. We had taught her at our home several times and Sister McIntyre and I fellowshipped her and her family.
Above is Rosario with her family at the baptism. She has three children. Marian, her daughter, is also taking the lessons, but was a little nervous about being baptized so let mom set the example and go first.
Rosario is from Peru and has lived in Japan many years. Her father was Catholic and her mother was a member of the church. But she had been raised Catholic. Zhou is from China and is a fine young man who was so prepared to hear the gospel. We expect to see great things from him and in his life related to the gospel. We were blessed with 4 baptisms in the mission on Christmas Day. It really was a white Christmas in Kobe.
December has been an interesting month for the mission as we have seen many people come unto Christ through baptism. The interesting thing is that the baptisms this month include people from China, Peru, Brazil, the Philippines and of course a majority from Japan. The mission now has missionaries serving from or with original ties to the US, Japan, Hong Kong (China), Canada, Columbia, Peru, Brazil, New Zealand, Australia, Samoa and the Philippines. (not to mention Hawaii and Alaska which to many are their own countries). We truly are called to preach the gospel to the world even in the Kansai region of Japan. It is beginning to remind me of the ward I served in for several years as bishop. We had members in the ward representing over 15 countries and many languages. Perhaps that experience helped prepare me to serve here in Kobe. We truly are all children of our Father in Heaven. There is one God for all and one baptism.
We have never before experienced a Christmas week like this last one. I am glad transfer week will not fall on Christmas the rest of our mission. To be honest, it was very busy and exhausting, but will certainly be a Christmas to remember and cherish.