See Below: Chest of Visions:"a significant step forward in Youth Group Study Guides"New Letters: January 2, 2015 to January 29th
Beginning with an e-mailed letter one year ago, twenty two letters were received from young people in the far off land of Caperston. Twenty one were from a young man named Mattpaul and the last, received on December 10, 2013, from his best friend, Huchfee.
Much has been happening in Caperston involving the teachings of a "prophet" named Chi-hay-su and the imprisonment of the writer of the first 21 letters, Mattpaul. The book, The Chest of Visions, records each of these letters, telling the story of Caperston, while reflecting on the way of life of its inhabitants.
The story continues. We list the most recently received letters from January 2017 then summaries of the letters received between January and December 2016.
The Trial of Chihaysu: Caperston Changes Forever
Hi Laura and friends,
Well, the rumors are true and the trial of Chihaysu will begin on the fifthteenth day of the New Year which is the first day our court is open. In our world there are not a lot of trials. Every thirty days the court opens to see if anyone wants to have a trial. If so, the court hears the expressed concern and can decide whether a trial is appropriate. If so, a date is scheduled. When Sav-ed was here he was the judge for the trial. Since he disappeared (at least as far as most are concerned), Pontos the Ruler will be the judge.
The person asking for the trial is Zester and he came up with an old rule no one was aware of which says that anyone protesting to the ruler shall be tried and, if guilty, put to death. Zester will argue that Chihaysu spoke out against the Ruler's decree that Rachaeling marry him even though she did not want to. He will argue that Chihaysu encouraged her to break the law.
I finally got to see Chihaysu two days ago. We spoke for some time and I told him about your holidays: Thanksgiving and Christmas. He liked these and told me that the Hugapods have a type of Thanksgiving where they take time to have a feast and thank God for all he has given them. Chihaysu said that we have many things to learn from the Hugapods as their beliefs are very strong. Chihaysu is not worried about the trial and believes that God will not allow the unfaithfulness of Zester to win out over his own faithfulness. Whatever the consequence, he is mentally prepared.
More has been learned about Zester's argument against Chihaysu. Zester will lead those accusing Chihaysu of saying things that are troubling to faithful leaders of the community.He will argue that someone has to be in charge and make the rules and that is Pontos. Chihaysu not only spoke out against the unfair law. He encouraged others to also do so. He is trying to take power from Pontos and using a "silly little rule" as a reason to get the people angry with Pontos. Simply speaking Zester claims Chihaysu is a revolutionary.
The penalty for being a revolutionary is death and buriel with the criminals, unidentified, alone and unvisited. When the people heard this, they gasped. No one had been killed for their crimes in many generations - back to the time of the war that freed Caperston from Romas over 10 generations ago!
January 9thDear Huchfee, our Christmas is gone. We had a nice surprise. At the Christmas Eve service the foster parents of Matthew Paul brought him to our service. He looked so different - all dressed up and he looked taller and even stronger. Those foster parents must be feeding him well. The only sad news was that Matthew Paul learned that his mother Julia had disappeared. He used to see her every seven days. Then it became twenty days and now - no visit for a very long time. He told us his caseworker (someone who tries to keep the family together while planning to reunite them in the future) said she continues to try to locate Julia but the last time they spoke was almost 50 days ago. We promised to pray for his mother and he and he said he would do the same. He also said he likes your story of Caperston which he reads on a computer he has at home. Please keep us informed about the trial. We are very, very interested.
January 12thDear Laura ... they had day one of the trial and not much happened. Zester stated that he will present his evidence so strongly that Pontos will have no doubt that Chihaysu is guilty. He quoted a law that was so old no one, even Pontos, had heard of it. It was written twenty generations ago and stated that the ruler had the authority to require anyone to show respect by offering his daughter as a wife to the Ruler or his designee. The problem is - the rule did not state who a "designee" was. So Zester stated that it was an appointee of the Ruler, namely, in this case, him.
Chihaysu replied that an old rule was simply that - an old rule written for a time in the past. He concluded that Caperston has new rules established by the unseen God who rules over our hearts. The real trial begins tomorrow and I will be able to observe it! I have never seen a trial.
Trial began with Zester asking several citizens to speak. He asked them what they heard Chihaysu say on September 2nd and each one said the same thing. Chihaysu taught "that God created a special love - that unique feeling that a man has for a woman and a woman has for a man. This love is jointly shared and jointly chosen, ultimately leading to the lifetime commitment of marriage, a commitment through good times and trying times through times of illness and times of health. Only the couple can make this choice." The testimony seemed correct to me and Chihaysu did not dispute any of it. In fact, he said very little. This was the day for Zester to make the case against Chihaysu and Zester reminded Pontos that the choice of marriage could be made by individuals but sometimes the law calls for another action, that of obedience to, yes, the wishes of the Ruler.
At the end of the day, Zester quoted the law about giving respect to the Ruler. He argued that without respect, there would be chaos in Caperston. He repeatedly returned to that theme - chaos in Caperston. He argued that respect was absolutely needed. After he finished, I heard many people saying that Zester's argument made sense. How can anyone rule effectively without respect?
Pontos let Zester begin the second day by giving a summary. Zester was very effective. He quoted another old law ..."Rulers earn respect because of their responsibility to maintain order in the community. In return citizens shall demonstrate their respect and appreciation by each offering a gift. The gift could be an annual tax or, the ruler can excuse the tax payment and ask for the hand of a citizen's daughter in marriage for himself or for his designee. If this offer is made, the marriage must take place within 60 days of the offer." The argument looked good but someone pointed out that the incident which was on trial was that Chihaysu argued against forcing Rachaeling to marry Zester. Chihaysu was not Rachaeling's father. Pav-ed was. And Pav-ed was assumed to be dead. We then realized that there was a case to be made against Zester's argument.
Later in the afternoon Chihaysu got to speak. To our surprise he did not make the argument that Pav-ed, not he, would be the one to offer Rachaeling to Pontos as an example of his respect. Rather he reiterated his belief that the unseen God gave individual's the freedom of choice in whom they would marry. He concluded, "I have faith that the unseen God will persuade you, Pontos, to make the right decision". Pontos then stated that there would be one more day of the trial - a day for the citizens of Caperston to speak. We all met to identify someone who would present the argument that Pav-ed, now known as Sav-ed, is the father of Rachaeling and only he could give the required permission for Rachaeluing to marry. No one really wanted to be the speaker until Timus reluctantly said, "I am a new follower of Chihaysu and not even an official follower. However, if no one else will present this argument to Pontos tomorrow, I will do so". We all thanked Timus.
Yesterday the trial was long and event filled so I did not have time to write. It went on until the late afternoon. Timus began in the morning by making the argument that only Sav-ed could give his daughter to Pontos’ designee as Chihaysu was not the father. We all knew this but Pontos could not consider this fact until it was actually presented at trial. Then several citizens spoke of Chihaysu and his teachings. They testified that Caperston was a friendlier place since Chihaysu began teaching ideas such as "Love your neighbor in a manner as you love yourself". We began to clap when we heard these things but Pontos rose his hand in their air and asked for silence so that he could think about these testimonies.
Zester was given the opportunity to question all of the witnesses and asked the question, "What makes you think things are better? Aren't the Mountain youth rebelling?" People responded that they were rebelling because he and Pontos treated them poorly and Zester responded, "Really ... are there hungry people in Caperston? Are there people without homes?"
The trial seemed to be winding down with strong arguments made on both sides. Then, without warning, we heard a disturbance in the back of the courtroom. Suddenly Sav-ed appeared. Zester's face turned white. Pontos was momentarily speechless then stated, "My friend, Pav-ed, we thought you were dead". Pav-ed replied, "Yes, my friend, Pontos. I am dead. Dead to my old ways, saved from my closed-minded ideas. I have had a vision and been given a new name, Sav-ed".
Zester saw his opportunity, "So you have had a vision and been given a new name?" He turned and faced Pontos, "My Ruler ... when I last saw Pav-ed he was on a mission you ordered us to complete. He was drinking - a lot of wine - and was babbling to himself. I saw him stagger to the side of the boat then lose his balance and fall overboard. We tried to see him to rescue him but it was dark and foggy. We could not see him but heard him continue to babble, something about the beauty of wine and how it makes you feel.
Pontos thanked Zester and turned to Sav-ed. "Pav-ed you were my friend, tell us who you saw in your vision". Sav-ed paused, "My friend and honorable Ruler. It was not see a ghost or even the unseen God of Chihaysu, who I saw? It was my son Mattpaul". There was a gasp in the courtroom. Everyone loved Mattpaul and admired him for his courage. They had also learned of the vision of Mattpaul playing in the heavenly kickuml game (see chapter of The Chest of Visions). Pontos repled, "You saw Mattpaul? And what did he say?"
Sav-ed replied, "He said 'Father, now will you believe?' And I did. One last thing, my Honorable Ruler. I was not drinking that night. I was discussing a matter with Zester when, he lost control and, in anger, pushed me over the rail of the boat. I saw him look over the boat but he made no effort to rescue me".
Zester interjected, "Pontos, who will you believe myself, your favorite appointed official, or Pav-ed who disgraced you by drinking and then falling overboard when the mission, you sent us on, was about to begin?" He then pointed his finger at Chihaysu who suddenly stood up . Zester said, "It is this man who has filled citizens of Caperston with lies. They do not know what to think and who to believe".
Pontos replied, "You are right Zester. Even I do not know who or what to believe." Just then I knew I had to speak. I timidly raised my hand and many were not aware but Pontos was. "Huchfee, do you want to testify?"
"Yes, your honor, I do."
"Then come forward to the stand. Do you promise to tell the truth?"
"Yes, I do."
"Then can you assist me in understanding the truth? " Pontos asked. I then told him how I was on the boat with Zester and Sav-ed and had witnessed their argument when Sav-ed asked Zester to reconsider his plans for the Mountain youth. I told Pontos that he had called Sav-ed a "weak old man" twice then pushed him over the side of the boat. Pontos asked me if Sav-ed was drinking and I said "No, there was no wine on the boat". Everyone gasped, then silence.
It was only a few seconds but seemed to last forever. Then Pontos spoke, "I think, no, I am sure, I know the truth. Zester ... stand up. I find you guilty of attempted murder and sentence you immediately to prison. Guards take him away."
Then he turned to Chihaysu ... "My good man. I am not sure I am ready to believe in the unseen God, of which you speak. But one thing I know. You are a good man and now you are free". A cheer went up in the courtroom.
Then he turned to Sav-ed. "My friend Pav-ed , I am overjoyed that you are alive. Come see me with your lovely wife for dinner this evening. We have much to discuss". He turned to me, "Thank you Huchfee. Your testimony made the difference".
And to everyone he turned, "Let the truth be known throughout Caperston. This trial is over. Good day everyone"
. Chihaysu left with Sav-ed to talk about all the events in Romas, before meeting with Pontos for dinner. Rachaeling and Michaeling came to me congratulating me for being brave enough to stand up to Zester. And now my friends, I am tired. I will update you soon.
January 20thHuchfee - wow. Someone should write a book about all that is happening in Caperston. We will add you, Chihaysu, Sav-ed and all the citizens of Caperston to our prayer list. Please keep in touch and we understand if you need sometime before writing again.
Here on Earth we are very worried about Matthew Paul and his mother. There is a court hearing coming up soon (sort of like your trial of Chihaysu) and if she does not appear we do not know what the judge will do. We do not want JUlia to lose Matthew Paul but our pastor stated there are rules that she has to follow. Usually she has a year to do what the judge ordered so please pray for Julia and Matthew Paul as we are praying for all of you.
Dear Laura and friends ...
Huchfee showed me how to communicate with you through my compol so here I am trying.
When Chihaysu was released he advised that he wanted to spend time with his mother. Of course we all understood. She was terribly worried. He advised that he would meet with us in fifteen days and that day is coming soon. There is a rumor that Chihaysu went to visit with the Hugapods. It will be very interesting to hear what he has to say when we meet with him.
Pontos will be making an announcement about some new plans he has for Caperston at the end of our month which is twenty days from now. Zester remains in prison. How is Matthew Paul doing? Has his mother been found. Now that things are calm here in Caperston we must place our prayers to benefit Matthew Paul.
The story continues with Letters received in February. Please click: February 2015 letters
Past Letters Summary
On January 14th Huchfee reported that the situation in Caperston is of developing chaos. Three days ago Mattpaul's father called him in and stated that he did not know whom he can trust. On the same day Huchfee reports that Pontos plans to give Zester a new position - to supervise the palace guard and the police force of Caperston. Zester will now report directly to Pontos himself. Later in the month Jonas reported that Chihaysu had just left for the desert. It is an area that no one from Caperston has gone. He took water, a sleeping blanket and some books.
Lastly, Laura from New York, in the letter published on January 30th, asks Huchfee for the name of Mattpaul's father. He is such an important man in Caperston yet all the letters simply refer to him as "my friend's father".
Click January Letters for the entirety of the correspondence received and published in January 2014.
In February, letters were received describing the meeting of Princess Cle-as of Romas with Chihaysu. She makes him a threefold proposition - see letter of February 10th. In addition, in the letter of Feb.26th it is revealed that Mattpaul's father is named Pav-ed and he has requested that the Ruler of Caperston, Pontos, appoint Huchfee to be the official "Youth Representative" in place of Zester, who was promoted to the position of overseer of the police.
Click February Letters for the entirety of the correspondence received and published in February 2014.
In March, letters were received describing concerns. "Marcus visited the Mountain Village where he was raised and reports that the youth are becoming increasingly agitated." In addition,Chihaysu appointed a new follower, Annad, to watch over the funds that he and his followers have received as donations. Lastly, Michaeling led Caperston youth in a candle ceremony stating "When you pray, light your candle then speak with God. Let us see how bright the prayers to God will make this room."
Click March Letters for the entirety of the correspondence received and published in March 2014.
Turmoil has come to a head in Caperston. Huchfee reports in his letter of April 7th that the Mountain youth were confronted by a group of the palace enforcers led by Zester. More specifically ... "Suddenly and without warning Zester called out, "Charge", leading the attack. The Mountain Youth had no weapons and began to run but the soldiers did not stop. The soldiers caught those who were not fast runners and began spearing them. We were told that ten youth were wounded and fifteen were killed. Seven of those killed were girls and Zester was seen stabbing two of the girls."
We are awaiting further news of the unrest in Caperston.
Click April Letters for the entirety of the correspondence received and published in April 2014.
The month of May brought great drama to Caperston ... "Another leader among the Mountain Youth called out, 'Then we will banish this traitor from our Mountain home. Go, traitor,' and he gave him a shove. 'Go live with your wretched Valley People'. He gave him a second shove and Dustin fell."
Shortly afterwards Dawnling cried out, "How could you do this to my and your dear friend Dustin. Don't you remember how you were all fed because he shared his lunch with you at the meeting with Chihaysu?"
In response the other youth became remorseful. They cried out, "We did not know what we were doing and now more blood of Mountain Youth has been shed." Jonas and Pav-ed were amazed at the influence Dawnling had over the Mountain Youth as their anger turned to repentance.
Later a valley youth spoke out, "Pav-ed, it is wise to listen to what Chihaysu is saying. If this God is within him and his followers, then we should respect this. If this God is simply something of their imagination, then the things being taught will soon become past memories."
Click May Letters for the entirety of the correspondence received and published in May 2014.
During the month of June only two letters were received but the second letter was a shocker. Huchfee reported that Zester called out " You weak, old man, what good are you?" I had, by now just arrived on the deck in the back of the boat. Zester pointed his finger at Pav-ed chest and repeated, "You weak old man" then, suddenly pushed him backwards over the side of the boat. He was unaware that I witnessed what he had done. Read below for more information on the impact of this crime... the murder of the second most powerful person in Caperston by a classmate of Huchfee!
Click June Letters for the entirety of the correspondence received and published in June 2014.
July LettersWe learned Pav-ed did not die as follows ... "Suddenly he had a vision... of Mattpaul, who stated, "I am well father, in heaven. Will you now believe? Believe father. God has called you to be the new surprise follower of Chihaysu. Believe and you will be saved." Pav-ed called out, "My son ... I believe" .
Click July Letters for the entirety of the correspondence received and published in July 2014.
Much has happened in August. Most prominent were two things: the visit to Romas by Sav-ed and Jonas at the request of Princess Cle-as. Secondly there was the decree by the Ruler Pontos that he approved the request of Zester to take Rachaeling as his wife. The marriage must occur within 50 days of Pontos' decree and the thought is distressful to Rachaeling, who loves Huchfee and is not favorable of Zester at all.
The Good News of the month was the results of the Mattpaul Memorial Kickuml Game.
Click August Letters for the entirety of the correspondence received and published in August 2014.
September LettersHuchfee reported that Pontos sent Zester to arrest Chihaysu for speaking out against him. We are told that he also arrested the man Timus for being the first in the crowd to clap for Chihaysu's speech. Pontos declared, "I am the ruler and there is no God to set rules that challenge my rules". With Chihaysu arrested, we need Sav-ed more than ever. There are now 35 days to the marriage of Zester and Rachaeling." On Earth Laura reported that Julia and Matthew Paul are still separated as Julia continues to be homeless. The judge continued Matthew Paul in foster care for six months!
Click September Letters for the entirety of the correspondence received and published in September 2014.
October LettersSav-ed remains in Romas for a longer period of time then expected. Several of Chihaysu's followers watch over Rachaelling in North Woods. On one occasion Marcus and Rachaelling befriend the seven to eight foot tall Hugapods. Their leader, Erbert is even taller. During the same period of time Chihaysu and Timus remain in jail. An earthquake shakes the jail and the doors break open but they remain singing the hymn "Praise Him" taught to them by earthly friends.
Click October Letters for the entirety of the correspondence received and published in September 2014.
November LettersEarly in November we read ... "Marcus stated that after the dancing event a week ago he spoke with one of the Hugapod leaders, whose name is Erbert. Erbert is also the best player at the basket shooting game. He is eight feet four inches tall and a good jumper. In the game Erbert made 22 out of 23 drop shot attempts and led his team to victory 59 to 54.. Then on November 25th we learned ... Dear friends, We are all sad.We visited Ammed last night. He was very ill but very gracious. He said, "I am ready to go". He then closed his eyes and a wisp of a cloud like substance arose from his body.
Click November Letters for the entirety of the correspondence received and published in November 2014.
December LettersPeople in Romas do not know what to believe and Sav-ed told Jonas to return to Caperston to let us know that he does not know when he can return. Chihaysu remains in prison and the rumor is that, in the New Year, he will be put on trial for speaking out against the ruler Pontos.
Click December Letters for the entirety of the correspondence received and published in December 2014.
Join the Correspondence!If you would like to write to Huchfee of Caperston and/or to Alex of New York, it is simple. Write your thoughts in an e-mail to Timferguson@christianyouthgroup.org and your thoughts will be published in this story and probably responded to by Huchfee and/or by Alex.
New Book Review from Goodreads
Jun 16, 2013 ... Lee Ashford for Readers' Favorite rated it 5 of 5 stars
"The Chest of Visions: Secrets of Caperston" by Tim Ferguson is a well-reasoned, well-written, and intelligently conceived allegory for use as a Christian Youth Group Study Guide. It is bound to be considered quite "awesome" by the Youth Groups which use it, just as it is bound to be considered controversial or even blasphemous by older generations, which often comprise church leadership.
However, if it is recognized for what it is - an allegory - it should be seen as no more controversial than "Pilgrims Progress", which no doubt faced a lot of opposition when it was first released. It should also be conceded that ANYTHING which helps youth understand the Gospel better is a good tool to be used for that purpose.
"The Chest of Visions" is crafted as a totally new concept for involving today's youth in Bible study. Borrowing from the contemporary popularity of Science Fiction and Fantasy fiction novels, comics and movies, the author has devised a correspondence across parallel universes between several teen-aged individuals on two different planets in two different universes.
The correspondences are prompted by the appearance on the planet Caperston of what amounts to a missionary, spreading the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. At first glance, one might assume the missionary is intended to imply an appearance of Jesus on another planet, by which He intends to extend salvation to the residents thereof. That is NOT the case, however. The missionary, Chi-hay-su, repeats a number of Jesus' sermons, and selects a number of "followers" who seem as if they are meant to fill the role of the Apostles, but in reality Chi-hay-su has HEARD the Gospel himself, believed it, and is doing what he believes is the most efficient approach to reach his entire planet FOR GOD. If read in its entirety, and considered prayerfully, "Chest of Visions" should be acknowledged as a significant step forward in Youth Group Study Guides. It has my stamp of approval, for whatever that's worth.
For more information on "The Chest of Visions",
please click: Letters from the Past