Sunday, December 16, 2012

It's Starting to Look A Lot like Christmas

What makes Christmas for you? Is it the music, or the shopping, or decorations, or parties, or cookies, or the special Sunday school program? Here, we have it all!
"O Come, All Ye Faithful" is belted out in music class by the first graders, and the dining hall is quite festive with the Christmas tree and paper garland draped from the ceiling. It is the end of school, so there will be a special program for the parents of the day students with lots and lots of cookies. The average Liberian does not get to eat cookies ever, so our homemade treats are a big hit!  Oh, I guess the biggest thing missing here is shopping. Dave would say that is certainly not a big loss, but one of us is feeling slightly retail deprived.

Is it the weather that makes it feel like Christmas...snow or overcast days with rain or fog? OK, we do not do well in the weather category. It is hot, and mostly sunny and dry, with the occasional thunderstorm thrown in every few days. The humidity is high, so it is sultry and steamy. Not a mitten or scarf in sight! No. It does not feel much like Christmas.
Is it the gifts that you enjoy about Christmas? The children have been making Christmas presents at school for their mothers. Fingers slathered with paint. Glitter, glue, crayons all working their magic into wonderful cards. Amazing creations out of paper and wood and ribbon. Excitement and enthusiasm for the special projects crafted with maybe more love and enthusiasm than talent. Gifts wrapped in hand decorated paper. It is a time for secrets and smiles.

Is it time spent with family and friends that make the days special for you? We miss our family very much during the holidays. This is our fifth Christmas away from home, and it is no easier this year to be far from those we love most. But we are surrounded by sixty five children and forty two employees, so we are certainly not alone!  And it is a busy time, so the days fly by. Accumulating and wrapping gifts for the kids takes many hours, and special meals and treats must be planned and organized. As children make gifts, we help supervise craft making and we clean up a lot of paint. Christmas Day itself will be full of activities and special food, and as it will be a skeleton work crew, we will help the kitchen staff that day.

One thing that makes it seem like the holidays here are the Christmas birds. White cranes arrive early in December, and their appearance officially marks the beginning of the holiday season. When the first Christmas bird was sighted around the seventh of December, there was much excitement on the village. Christmas was coming!
Another activity that marks Christmas for us is the Annual Traveling Christmas Pageant. A few days before Christmas, the children perform the story of Jesus' birth to the neighboring villages. It is a fun event, with angels, soldiers, shepherds, innkeepers, magi, and prophets making the trek through the sand with Mary and Joseph. Dress rehearsal this week went well. Shining angels smiled and the wise men sang their solos beautifully. Mary dropped Jesus, but quickly scooped him up and held him close. 

We hope that whatever makes the season special for you will be present in your celebrations. But mostly, we pray that King Jesus will be in all your celebrations. No matter what the weather is like, nor how many miles separate us from loved ones, or no matter how "unChristmasy" it feels, none of these things change the facts:  Jesus was born;  He walked this earth; He died for us.  Wow. What a Savior!   

Merry Christmas!
Love, Dave and Babs