Well, I did it! I got through my first Christmas away from home. And, I didn’t just get through it. I enjoyed it immensely. It was a different sort of enjoyment than all the other Christmas gatherings I have known in my life, but different doesn’t mean worse – it just means…unique.
So, Christmas Eve was spent doing some food prep in the morning, getting in a 3 mile run, then having a good cry with a friend because I was pretty homesick, then visiting with the Saums in the afternoon. Mike and Kim and I made decaf cappachino’s around 4 and sat on their back porch watching the pouring rain, curled up in Star Wars fleece blankets. We enjoyed conversation and just relaxing. Then, we piled into their car and went down to Lower Station for a big Open House and live nativity from 6-7pm. At 7, a portion of the guests from the Open House walked across the street to Kijabe Hospital for Candlelight Caroling in the various wards. Our group visited with the Maternity Ward, which was amazing because there were so many tiny babies that were less than a week old! This is me with one lady and her newborn:
After singing, I went home with the Stocksdale family to sleep over for the night. Jon, Susan, Ben and Caroline are such fun individuals and they have really become a surrogate family to me. So, I was grateful for their invitation to sleep over 🙂 We stayed up for a bit, just talking and drinking tea, and then everyone went to bed after wrapping some last minute presents. Ben and Caroline woke up at 7, and dragged us out of bed with their squeals and laughter, so stockings began at 7:30am. I was thankful to have a few gifts to open that Mom and Nora had sent, so it was special to get to open things like my traditional Dutch chocolate “E” letter. Susan had also prepared coffee cake, an egg casserole, fresh coffee, and fruit for us to enjoy during the opening of presents. We laughed a lot, mostly in response to Ben and Caroline’s enthusiasm and giddiness over every little thing they received. Who would have ever thought peanut M & M’s in a stocking could be such a Christmas miracle? 🙂 Oh, the things that you can’t get here in Nairobi!
Then, we took our group shot in front of the tree. The other couple are longtime friends of Jon who were in Kenya for this Christmas, too.
And, of course, all I asked for from Ben was that he give me a Piki ride for my Christmas present. So, we whipped around on his little Honda motorcycle through Campus for a few minutes, splashing through the muddy puddles (it’s been raining for the past 3 days here).
When we returned, the entire group took a short walk around campus, then came home to read the Christmas story.
One thing that really struck me anew out of the story this year came from verse 19: “But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.”
What exactly was she pondering, though? Certainly, the birth of her son, the Messiah, and the shepherds, and the entire miracle of the Saviour fulfilling a long-awaited prophesy! It was a wonder enough that she birthed a child in a lowly manger and stable! But, it’s not like she could ponder the exact details of the future. She didn’t know what was going to happen to her son. She didn’t know what it would be like to be his mother, that he would only live 33 years on the earth, how he would die, or even what their relationship would look like as he grew up. Her future circumstances were still a mystery.
While the future was still a mystery, I’d like to think that she was still pondering and treasuring the character of God and the surety of who HE was: her faithful, loving, powerful, omnipresent, all-wise God. Surely, these things were not a mystery to her! His angel had appeared to her, to comfort her, and guide her along the way when she first found out that she was “with child.” Then, His Holy Spirit allowed Joseph to not divorce Mary, and instead be faithful to her. And, before they knew it, they were led to Bethlehem. So, God had already revealed the type of God and Father he was to her.
This is such a comforting thought to me this holiday season – God is my faithful Father, and while I cannot ponder and treasure exactly WHAT will happen in the days ahead, I know WHO I serve and WHO is at work in my life. And, that truth is enough.
So, after reading this with the Stocksdales, I went home to grab some food I had prepared for lunch, and went down to the Orners to share Christmas lunch with them and some other friends. It was delicious! Turkey, Oma’s cranberry relish, spinach salad with pecans and craisins, homemade rolls, corn souffle, green beans, mashed potatoes, and fresh passion juice. This is “Mamma Lisa Orner.” She is probably the one here who is most like my surrogate mother. And her husband, Doug, is a dear-hearted man who is so laid back and cheerful.
We laughed a lot, and played Uno and Dominos with the little kids until 7pm, and then I went home to talk with my family. I got to say hi to Auntie Boo, Uncle Erik, Howard, Uncle Chris, Mom, Dad, Grandma, Brett, Peter, and my little cousin Shelby 🙂 It was great to hear their voices…
What a blessed day it was! God is so faithful to me. You can be miles away from a physical home and physical people, but love, joy, comfort, and peace are of God and His spirit, and therefore extend beyond the material world to reach our hearts and find us out exactly where we are. I certainly felt the Spirit’s comfort this Christmas, and was grateful to have new friends to enjoy it with. It’s always hard in the moment – and the only way to get through it, is well…THROUGH it. Yet, it’s really just another day in the scope of eternity, and sometimes when you DON’T have people you love on a special day like Christmas that you are used to having, you are filled with a fresh anticipation for future years when you’ll get to have those people back in person.
Wishing you and yours “comfort and joy” as we enter into 2010…