Gifts That God Brought

Now that I'm well passed Christmas, I feel I can comfortably share the challenges and blessings of the season.    When preparing to leave the States, I imagined that Christmas might be hard on my kids.   Funny, as it turned out, my kids were fine and elated with very little in the way of presents.  I, on the other hand, was a basket case.

We bought an artificial tree and some lights.  Cynda sent us some supplies to make homemade ornaments.   Jody sent a 'Merry Christmas' sign.  Collette sent a LEGO Advent Calendar.  We had all of the ingredients to make roll-out Christmas cookies.   All should have been perfect, don't you think?

I began to think about something special to eat for Christmas.  It is always about food here...  we really need to read those verses about life being more than food.    I dreamed of a turkey and some stuffing, a pumpkin pie and green bean casserole.   The problem:  I didn't prepare for this.  I could have easily purchased some of these things in La Ceiba back when we were in language school.  I just did not know.    We didn't even know how to make good pancakes without self-rising flour.   Our pancakes were like bricks.  And Christmas morning pancakes with whipped cream and sprinkles are a tradition, for goodness sake.

So, I was upset that we were without good food and that decent presents were nowhere to be found for our children.   My Mom had sent presents and stockings in an earlier container, thank God! 

We decided to keep it simple.  We were thankful for higher speed internet that would enable us to skype on Christmas Day with family.  Gift #1.

Christmas Eve - Alex went to a family's house that is also new to Puerto Lempira.  They are working to move to a destination across the lagoon to build a Bible Institute.   It seems that she has a much larger food budget than I AND she is much more prepared.   They made a family trip to La Ceiba in early December and purchased all sorts of goodies.   She sent Alex home with cream cheese dips, all sorts of cookies, bean dip, salsa and so on.   Gift #2

Around 2:00 on Christmas Day, we received a knock on the door.  It was some of the kids from Familia Alastero - one of the homes for children that we work with here in Puerto Lempira.  The tias had made 2 delicious plates of Honduran food for us.   I dug right in.   Gift #3

We have been waiting for a few important pieces of furniture for a few weeks.  My kitchen existed in boxes along the floor and we were still living out of footlockers after 5 months.   New Year's Eve we got the call that they were ready!!!!!   Gift #4

That same evening we had a slumber party for younger girls from the House of Hope.   At midnight, a flurry of beautiful fireworks were displayed just above the trees outside on our front balcony.  The girls were screaming 'mas, mas, mas'  - more, more more.  I felt so happy for my girl.  She was making a lifetime memory with new friends.   Gift #5

New Year's Day arrived with sickness, but total and complete quiet outside our house.   This is BIG... normally, music blares from early morning until late into the evening just across the street.   We ended up with 4 days of quiet in a row!!  Gift #6

On the afternoon of New Year's Day, a dear friend of Alex's brought over plates of HAM, chicken and tamales.   Oh my!   Ham is unheard of here.   I know you think I'm obsessed with food.  Perhaps, I am.   Anyway, it was a delightful surprise.  Gift #7

So, I start 2011 in a much better place than I ended 2010.  My husband, of course, was the usual rock ... consistent, sure of our calling and directing our family forward.   Gift #8

After the fact, I ask myself 'what exactly was it that was wrong?'   I cannot put a finger on it.  Yes, I missed my family.  Yes, I missed my friends.  Yes, I felt like a sojourner instead of a resident.  Yes, I had dreams of a better Christmas for my kids.    I'm not sure which really bothered me the most... or maybe it was a combination of all of the above.

I also found out from a friend that the first Christmas is the hardest for new missionary women.  OK, that makes sense.   I was comforted by that fact and am able to look back on it all as a learning experience.  

As for future holidays, who knows.  We may just make our way back to Texas for the next Christmas and take our kids snow skiing.  Who knows.   I do know that I'm relieved to have it all behind me.    Looking forward to 2011 and the things that God has placed before us.


Mrs. Edwards said…
This is no doubt cold comfort, but I'm sure that most of all this disappointment can be summed up in two words: "culture shock." Next year if you come home for Christmas you'll probably spend the two weeks in total reverse culture shock, unable to enjoy the excess that is America.
Araratacres said…
I agree with Mrs. Edwards...I think coming back here will make you uncomfortable with the waste and excess that exists everywhere here.
However, it will be so nice to see friends and family in person. Love you guys~ Liz
Holly (me.) said…
So many of our holiday traditions are about the food, and it is often the women who take on most of the preparations of the food and creating the atmosphere, whether it's fine linens and fancy centerpieces or the Chinette balanced on one's lap, to provide the setting for each celebration. It makes sense that you would feel the absence of that busy-ness. The tasks that we do together with our sisters, mothers, friends, and daughters so often are centered around food and the kitchen.
Anonymous said…
Ahhh Laura. I am sure that it was hard being away from all that is familiar during Christmas. How amazing that your kids did not seem phased. You are truly giving your children a priceless gift of seeing you and Alex serve and show God's love to the children in Honduras. Thank you for being transparent. I am praying for you and your sweet family.

Jennifer Fawks
Cynda said…
My heart goes out to you, sweet friend. You are blessed by wise advice from the ladies above.

We are praying for transition and that with each holiday there will be less culture shock.

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