So, this is Christmas!
I find myself surrounded by family, singing Christmas carols, eating cookies, and making paper snowflakes. Just like any other Christmas, except of course, it’s not! I am also working in the garden, applying lots of sunscreen, and not worrying about buying that perfect gift! Although Christmas promotions have been in the stores and on the television for weeks now, the typical “American” sense of Christmas has yet to invade our household, of which I am very grateful! There has been no mention of buying gifts for each other or even a special holiday meal. It is obvious that the real gift for their family is simply being together for a few weeks, and I am fortunate to be included in that family. I was the one who decided it was time to bring out the family Christmas tree, but that’s only because I’ve been sharing my room with it (fully decorated!) for the last few months. And I did catch a neighbor baking a fruitcake the other day, but we certainly didn’t order one! The truth is, my host family doesn’t need trees or gifts or fancy foods to put them in the holiday spirit, as it is the same spirit of generous goodwill that they have year round. They remember the primary reason for Christmas, the birth of Jesus, and that is what they celebrate!
And what have you done?
Sometimes, I still can’t believe that I am in Africa. After waiting and praying for so long for the right opportunity to come my way, I am so thankful that I was accepted in the ELCA’s Young Adult in Global Mission Program. I took a risk, made the leap, said lots of prayers, and relied heavily on all of you for support! I said Goodbye. I made new friends, joined a new family, learned the basics of a new language, and crossed international borders. I said Hello. I learned a lot about Africa, myself, and my faith. I tried new things, missed old things, and understood what it means to be truly grateful for what you have. I said Yes.
Another year over…
As 2010 winds to a close, I find myself reflecting on the varied adventures I’ve had over the last year. To be certain, many of them involved the YAGM program, and it is astounding to think that one year ago at this time I did not know just how profoundly my life would change in 2010. But I am so glad it did!
A new one just begun!
2011 will bring even more profound changes to my life; I know that the adventure is merely beginning. I am learning a lot about being patient here, and learning that God’s time is not always our time. I do not know what He has planned for me in 2011, but I can’t wait to find out!
So, Happy Christmas!
I hope that all of you have a most festive and joyous Christmas and New Year. Thanks again for traveling with me on this journey of faith, especially during this time of year when we celebrate the coming of Jesus, Immanuel, which means God With Us. Enjoy those delicious holiday treats, make time to celebrate with family and friends, and know that I am thinking of you with love. Happy Christmas!
Lyrics from John Lennon’s Happy Christmas (War is Over)