Wednesday, December 25, 2013

12/24/2013: That’s what Christmas is all about Jessie

Merry Christmas from Mozambique!
I’ve been feeling a bit like Charlie Brown. I’m so used to Christmas in the states and I’ve been trying to bring that feeling to my house here. All the cocoa and cookies in the world can’t make 107 degrees and no family feel like Christmas, but somewhere in watching the 2 staple Christmas movies in my house—The Polar Express and A Charlie Brown Christmas—the feeling arrived, almost as if Linus and Santa were both talking directly to me:

“This bell sis a wonderful symbol of the spirit of Christmas – as am I. Just remember, the true spirit of Christmas lies in your heart” –The Polar Express

“Sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were so afraid. And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not: for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.’
That’s what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown.” –A Charlie Brown Christmas

I am living the spirit of Christmas. I followed the calling God put on my heart to move to Africa and serve the Lord in one of the most beautiful ways possible. The cookies and cocoa and giant Christmas and presents can wait. For the first time in God knows how long, all I want for Christmas is my family. I can’t have them here physically but I know they are thinking about me and as we sit and watch the same movies and track the same football games—it’s the little things right now—I can at least feel like we’re together.

Meanwhile blessings can found in the oddest packages.
The other day one of the nuns was heading to church and she asked if I wanted to go along. Part of me wanted to sit in my bed and stare at my book, but I knew that wasn’t the best decision. I went along with her. Turned out it was a day of giving to the poor elderly. Some South Africans had started a charity to provide food and gifts for the elderly in the community who can’t create their own holiday celebrations. So I met the Xinavane South Africans. Almost immediately I was adopted into their little group and invited to dinner at their clubhouse, invited to their weekend cook out, invited to have Christmas day with them. God bless the woman who when I said “yeah, I’m here by myself without my family” she said, “that is so brave but you shouldn’t be without any family on Christmas, come be with us.”
I don’t know how God will use me with these new connections. Maybe they’re in my life to help me adjust and have a place to go when I get homesick and some people who speak English to pass time with. But maybe God will use our connections and our skills together to help the people in Xinavane, maybe they’ll come to play in my secondary projects or my teaching. Maybe I’ll bring something to them.
Only God knows where this is going and meanwhile all I can do is enjoy the holidays with some families and continue to use my life to shine God’s light here in Africa.

And then Linus says to me “That’s what Christmas is all about Jessie Johnson”

So I hope you all are having a fabulous Christmas and enjoying your comforts and traditions but also remembering to bring life to the true spirit of Christmas.
PS Happy birthday Jesus

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