Being far far far away from family over the holidays is challenging for most missionaries. We all deal with it in different ways. Many at least loving the fact that we have Skype and phones. For us: we are still learning to embrace new traditions, savor a few old ones, and fill our days with friends who are also trying to fill the void of family and sweltering heat.
This year was one of our best Christmas’s since being overseas. It wasn’t because of the gifts under the tree. No, the children literally got 2 small things each and Darron and I didn’t even exchange a thing. It was the BEST because of the special people we got to hang out with. Come peep into our Christmas Coping of 2014.
Christmas Eve was so special because the expatriate Australians prepared their traditional Carols by Candlelight, Christmas Eve program. Over 170 of us gathered as the sun was going down on the lovely hill at the International School. There we shared a meal of taco’s and all the fixings. Along with yummy fruits and deserts. Then we sang secular and spiritual Christmas songs, accompanied by a brass band. The little children did a nativity scene…..I even saw a reluctant crying angel being carried into the scene by a persisting Mom. Precious. We lit candles and sang……after a while the tropical wind blew all our candles out despite the children’s best attempt to keep them all lit. There were many sweet conversations and Fiona saved me a mince fruit pie from her stash of goodies. My English roots really pay off at times!
There is my mince pie and dear Fiona!
Christmas morning we all head over to Heidi and Eric’s, where along with the other Robert family, we shared in a delicious breakfast. The highlight was the scavenger hunt that the children were sent on. The surprise: ZACH!!!! Heidi and Eric’s oldest son who is attending college in Thailand. Zach is admired by all the boys on this campus, including my own.
Then a spontaneous Christmas supper came together at our place. Including our new AMA family. They were held up visiting some Indonesian families. So in grand Christmas spirit the rest of us (both Robert families and ours) decided to eat desert first!!!! It was great and felt fun……but I don’t think I have ever been so full!
On the day after Christmas, 24 of us went off to the beach. It is a beach that requires a pretty rugged drive, and a more rugged hike, equaling a beach where we were completely alone. The waves were huge. Everyone had much fun. Lisa on our hike out “saved the orchids”, as the local people are planning on putting a road through to the beach and it is obvious that orchid conservation was not in the large plan. It is all part of coping at Christmas. In our midst we represented the recent loss of 2 fathers, a mother suffering from dementia, the loss of a young son, separation from 4 young adult “kids”, and so much more.
None of this “feels” like what we “know” Christmas is suppose to feel like, because in each of our minds and hearts…..Christmas equals being with extended family, cold weather, fire places and lots of special presents and baby Jesus slipped in there, somewhere. Along with nice Christmas music played, when we want to hear it and how we want to hear it…..instead of being BLARED at any odd time of day or night. Yet despite what we know, this is what it is and I am thankful for friends and tropical escapes and yummy food that help with the Christmas Cope.