This past Sunday three friends and I drove out to Yonezawa to “dig” a church out from under the snow. One of the sweet men, Mr. Onuki, who volunteers for the Diocese, invited us out to his church. Another fellow staffer was already there when we arrived. While the boys worked on the front of the church we three girls worked on the back of it. I promise we really did clear a lot of the snow off the church but we also managed to make an igloo and a slide from the top of the roof to the ground. It was AWESOME.
In Yonezawa this past weekend there was a Lantern festival going on. So some of my friends decided we would join in on the festivities. They built several snow lanterns in the wall of snow by the church. So incredibly beautiful!
During the Edo period, Christianity was banned from Japan. During the banishment many Christians were martyred because of their faith. In Yonezawa, 53 Christians were killed. The thing that was different about Yonezawa is that these 53 people walked to their death voluntarily. Because of their kindness and love that they gave to others in the village they were respected. Non-Christians lined the streets to honor these men and women as they walked to their death. It wasn’t until 300 years later that they were officially recognized for the sacrifice they made. Now in Yunozawa there is a memorial to honor these men, women, and children that died for their faith. Once we finished making our own lanterns we went to this memorial. It was dark out and there was too much snow for us to actually walk up to the memorial. But the story of these people and examples they left were not lost on us. We walked back to the car in silence, maybe all pondering the same thought “if we were them what would we have done?”
We finished out the night by walking around the actual festival and then eating a delicious meal at the church. It was a perfect end to a perfect day.
Thanks for tuning in!