What I Hate and Love about Christmas as a Missionary
Negative reaction first? Or Positive? AUGH! I dislike being negative, so let’s just get it out of the way. I HATE being away from family at Christmas. This is our 5th Christmas overseas and “time (IS NOT) makes (making) it easier”. Sorry. Christmas in my mind equals being with extended family.
I also strongly dislike a Papuan tradition, and that is many places throughout towns and villages build little decorative bamboo huts. From them comes BLARING Christmas music. Usually starting around 4:30 ish a.m. somewhere in the bustle of the morning it usually fades off, maybe 6:30ish……this can vary greatly. Often the music can restart at random times throughout the day and often in the evenings again. The music can be as random as Ava Maria to I want to Wish you a Merry Christmas. Despising the rude loud music one morning, Darron went off running to see where it was coming from. ONE MILE from our house was the little hut. The speakers pointed in two directions. The one pointing toward our home, was “helped” by the music echoing off the hill like mountain behind our home. Unlike the Muslim call to prayer, there is no rhyme or rhythm to this, so harder to accept. While the Muslim call i find fits into my life as easily as gecko’s, consistent timing of dawn and dusk year round, and humidity. Time has not made intrusive Christmas music easier to bear. Maybe by year 10 or 20 I’'ll come to love it???!
Which leads me into what I LOVE about Christmas as a missionary in a third world:
The LACK of commericialism and social pressure! Sure there are Christmas trees up in the stores (mostly ugly ones) and pictures of Santas dangling around town, but there are no sale flyer’s bombarding my mail box. No Toys R Us catalog that my children are drooling over and circling wanted items. No aisles full of toys, tinsel and treasures that i would be sure to regret if i didn’t buy. Often as Christmas Day approaches my younger boys will admit, “I can’t wait for Christmas!!!” To which my standard response has become, “Now remember, we have very few gifts for you this year.” They know that the stores simply don’t sell things that they need or want. Again, I have come to LOVE this. Christmas is no longer about “what i am going to get?” but “what am i going to give?”. And a REFOCUS on the true meaning of the day. I will never regret raising my boys in this season of their lives here in Papua.
NEW traditions. Making a Ginger bread house with my girly neighbor!
Christmas Eve: Christmas Carols by candlelight. Just a splendid time of fellowship, casual picnic, and music plus singing. Very Special indeed!
Making Christmas Cakes with a dear friend who LOVES them as much as I. It was much fun to share the special ingredients. Learn from her years of making them. Glean recipes from her “Be-Ro” cook book and “Wholefood Christmas Cookery” that she bought for 45p. And decide that even though this is a huge improvement over last year, they are still not as good as my Moms!!!!!
Having 12+ guests for Christmas lunch. We all shared in the cooking. There was so much food. Nothing like being with others to distract us from the things we are missing.
Desert! Andrew with his French teacher.
Healing of one of our little 4 year old missionary girls, that was having seizures, while many of us were eating Christmas lunch.
So contrasting the things I hate (which are few) compared to the things I LOVE (which are many) about Christmas as a missionary, I’m feeling blessed this season. Thankful for growth and comfort.