Our first Thanksgiving and Christmas as missionaries here in Bolivia was very different. It was our first time being away from our families for these holidays and I have to admit, it was very hard. Despite the challenges though, we tried to make it into a grand adventure and were successful in enjoying the holidays and making it special in our own way.
So many people remember those serving in the military and their families around Christmas time. But most people never think to remember their missionaries. Like those serving their country there are countless missionaries all over the world serving the Lord Jesus. They are also far away from family members and the comforts and traditions that we all hold so dear during this time of year.
For me, snow is something I have been missing! The seasons are the opposite here in South America so our Christmas was very warm. It was very strange singing Christmas carols about snow and cold when we are more concerned about sun burn here. It was also difficult to find
things that we are used to having back in the States. Two of my favorite Christmas presents were the box of candy canes that my mom sent and the canned pumpkin from my mother in law. Sometimes we don’t realize that it’s the small things that can make the biggest difference in the lives of a missionary.
It was fun looking for ways to make new traditions here in our new home and we were blessed to find a small artificial Christmas tree and enough decorations to make it into something nice. But one thing I’ll never forget was the realization that we don’t need a big beautiful traditional Christmas for it to “really be Christmas”. In fact, after seeing the joy and excitement on the faces of the people here simply because of the reason that Christ was born it really helps you get a deeper understanding of what a “real Christmas” is meant to be.
Yes, it is very difficult being away from the ones we love, however I seem to be constantly reminded of the honor it is to be here serving the one who came as a new born baby so that He could save His people from their sins. I did enjoy Christmas this year, maybe just because this year I got to live Christmas, perhaps in more of a way that we should in the States as well.
Throughout this New Year remember the real reason for Christmas and remember the missionaries all around the world who are telling others about this reason as well.