See Below: Chest of Visions:"a significant step forward in Youth Group Study Guides"New Letters: January 14, 2014 to November 25th
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 10th, 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 November then summaries of the letters received between January and October 2014.
November 6thHow Do You Know About God?
Michaeling asked me if she could visit with Rachaeling. After our meeting with the Hugapods, I felt she would be safe but could not go alone. I cannot get off work and it is important that I keep an eye on Zester. I spoke with Timus who agreed to take her. When they arrived, they learned that Rachaelling and Jonas were planning to visit a Hugapod village. Jonas and Michaeling returned and gave a most interesting report. Timus remained with Rachaelling.
I will summaize their report. The Hugapods actually live in a series of caves on the North Side of North Woods. They are equal distance between Caperston and the larger town of Romas. Their village consists of about twenty cave homes with about 120 Hugapods living there. One interesting thing we saw was a game they all play. It is with a ball the size that we use in the Kickuml games. They do not kick the ball into a goal but they throw the ball into a basket. The basket is attached to a tree about 10 feet above the ground and a line is drawn 18 feet from the tree. You have two choices - shoot a long shot 18 feet away for two points or, for the most athletic, take a drop shot worth one point. When taking a drop shot, the tall Hugapods run up to the line and are allowed one step and a jump to reach over the basket and drop the ball in.
There are teams and each team can decide which players will take what type of shot. The first team to reach a score of 59 is the winner. Timus stated he tried the long shot four times while playing and made one out of four. The really tall Hugapods, that did the drop shot, almost never missed while those shooting the long shot made a little less than half. The competition was a lot of fun.
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. It was a close competition and, when his team got behind 52 to 51, Erbert made a long shot and a drop shot to go ahead. After the other team made a drop shot Erbert's teammate made a long shot and Ermert scored the last point with his 22nd drop shot. Overall Erbert scored 24 points on 24 shots with only one miss. We were told by those present that no one has ever just missed one shot while shooting 24 or more shots in a game ... it is a record performance !!!
Marcus stated that he found Erbert to speak in short replies and to be a good listener. He started to tell Erbert about the unseen ruler of whom Chihaysu speaks and he was totally surprised when Erbert replied, "You mean God". Marcus asked, "How do you know about God?" and Erbert told their story. His father was the ruler of the Hugapods and many years ago had a dream. It was a very vivid dream of a man, tied to a tree up in the air. His hands were spread horizontally and, when he looked closely, he saw that he was not tied to the tree but large nails were piercing his bleeding hands. Some people were there crying but most were making fun of him saying, "He helped others but he cannot help himself". He seemed in pain but Erbert's father saw him look to the sky and say "Father God, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing". Erbert's father then woke up from his dream and spent the night thinking about those words, "Father God forgive them".
His father noted that there had been much arguing amongst the Hugapod people recently and he said, "We need to learn to forgive". He called a meeting and told everyone of his dream and as their ruler, he called them to forgive. If they have trouble with someone, they should do as the man in the dream ... except they need to say "Father God, help me to forgive those who have wronged me".
People began doing so and the Hugapod Village became more and more peaceful. Over a generation the person people asked for assistance became known simply as "God" and every Hugapod, two times a day, leaves to go to a quiet place, looks to the sky and asks God to help them forgive. Erbert said that this has worked for a generation and it is why everyone gets along.
Marcus told him of Chihaysu's teaching and both concluded that it is the same God we are all praying to.
The sixty day decree, enforcing the marriage of Zester and Rachaeling is now over and Rachaelling will remain with the Hugapods until new plans can be made for her. Rumors are that Zester has other plans to assert his influence with Pontos.
Sav-ed remains in Romas. It has been a long tome and we trust that all is well. It was good to hear from Matthew Paul and that his foster parents have been good to him. How is everyone else?
May God be with all of us in these challenging times.
Hi Huchfee and friends ... it is good to hear of Rachealing's safety. Is she still with the Hugapods? How is Annad and his illness? And what about Sav-ed? He has been gone for so long. Is Pontos going to release Chihaysu now that the sixty days are over? Is Zester still planning to test the light guns on the Hugapods? I know ... we have so many questions.
Here we had a youth group meeting and we talked about the similarity of Chihaysu's time in the desert last February and the time our Jesus spent in the desert 2,000 years ago. They were both there for long times and both went to pray. An evil being, who we call Satan, came to see Jesus and tempted him in three ways - to change a rock to bread (yes, Jesus could do that if he wished), to jump from a tall building and have God rescue him and to bow down to Satan and he would be made ruler of earth. Jesus said, "no" to all three offers and told Satan to leave him alone.
We then noticed that after Cle-as met Chihaysu while he was in the desert that she offered him three things: a technique to heal his mother of the AHT illness,that she will be a believer if he becomes her husband and that he is to "believe in your heart that your God wishes you to be my king and our alliance to be the restoration of our planet. Commit yourself to work with me to make this a reality. Lastly, I ask you to pledge that you will love no one in this world more than you love me. In return, I pledge that your God will be my God, my dear Chihaysu". The experiences were similar but not identical and I guess this is what happens in a parallel universe. It made us all think about our Jesus and his temptation.
As I told you we also had challenges. The boys stated that the conversion of Pav-ed who becomes Sav-ed after he was converted reminded them of the conversion of Saul who became Paul. We girls pointed out that the killing of Dustin in Caperston reminded us of the killing of a young man named Stephen, who was "stoned" to death many years ago. When Stephen was killed the man Saul was present and when Dustin was killed your Pav-ed was an observer. It is all very interesting and our youth leader says if we look very carefully there are other similarities between the events in Caperston and the events in Capernaum and Jerusalem in our world.
No more information about Matthew Paul except that his foster parents state that they will bring him to visit our church during special holidays we have coming up soon on Earth.
Hi all - I have been reading the story and I just noticed that there are swords and newly developed "light guns" on Caperston but no guns with gunpowder and bullets like here on earth. There are no planes in the sky, no bombers and we don't hear about drugs. So Caperston sounds like a safer place than earth.
Great game by Erbert making 23 out of 24 shots. I know some teams here on Earth that could use someone 8 feet 4 inches who can shoot that well.
Hi Laura and Darren,
Thank you for sharing and we all are amazed at the similarities between our worlds. You will have to tell us more about the "guns with bullets" and "drugs". We don't know what they are and they do not seem to be good. Also please tell us about your holidays. We have a Rememberence of the Dead day, and you may remember Chihaysu challenged Pontos for using this holiday to make money from the people by selling memorials at it. It sounds like your holidays are coming soon. Please tell us some more.
Laura ... you asked a lot of questions so let me answer them. We brought Rachaeling to stay with Chihaysu's mother two days ago. She is comfortable there. Zester seems to have given up on all of his threats about using the light guns and he does not seem to be looking for Rachaeling any longer but we still feel it is safer where she is until her father Sav-ed returns.
Once we discovered the Hugapods were friendly, Jonas felt free to travel to Romas, where he met with Sav-ed. Sav-ed stated that he had much work to be done there. There is an uprising in Romas and even Princess Cle-as is at risk. He promised to return as soon as possible and sent Jonas back. Ammed is getting weaker each day. He is being looked after by Michaeling with help from Marcus' sister, Dawnling. We will be visiting with Ammed tomorrow after work.
Chihaysu remains in prison and Timus sees him once a week. We fear Zester is up to something as Timus states that he has placed a second guard to watch Chihaysu. It seems silly because Chihaysu could have left during the earthquake but did not. The guard who became a believer in God is named Lucas. After the earthquake he met us at a small prayer meeting at Michaeling's home. There we told him of Zester's threat, a while ago, to use the light guns on the Hugapod people. We told him that Zester appeared to have changed his mind but Lucas stated that he would visited the Hugapods to prepare them if Zester once again changed his mind as Zester has done so in the past. Lucas met with Erbert and even played the basket shooting game. He discovered that he was a good long-shooter and was invited to join a contest with the Hugapods next week.
Marcus is sharing with the Mountain youth the story of their jailed leaders and how they remained in jail after the earthquake. The mountain youth are very remorseful over what happened to Dustin and they are now calling him a hero for standing up for his beliefs. I will write to you after we meet with Ammed tomorrow night.
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. Many of us were there. Michaeling and Rachaeling cried. Chihaysu's mother stated that Ammed was a good man, who was willing to admit his shortcomings and ask for forgiveness. She stated, "He is with God now. With Mattpaul, Kevin and Dustin". Marcus stated that that is good but too many people have died in too short a time.
We are still waiting for Sav-ed to return from Romas. I tried calling him on my compol but got no answer. It is probably too far away. Michaeling (she was always the smart one) stated that she heard that one of the hugapods walked for days to Romas then left Romas on the other side of their town and kept walking. He was wondering what was on the otherside of Romas and guess what he found ... Caperston. Michaeling thought about it and concluded that our world is like a giant ball and, if true, that is why our compols don't work to call Sav-ed. We are on the opposite side of the ball. That Racheaeling is smart and that is one reason I love her.
The story continues click December 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.
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