As you might imagine our missionaries experience a different Christmas than the average American family. Even recently, talking with my mom who is working in Tanzania, she was explaining how it is a little harder to get in the Christmas spirit when its 85 degrees, no stores and malls are decked out in Christmas décor with Christmas music playing and there is not the constant reminder of the coming of Christmas by way of commercialism, holiday parties, and holiday events to attend. Yet all of this makes remembering the true and beautiful reason for Christmas ever more present on her mind – that being the celebration of our Savior’s birth.
Our missionaries have shared some of the highlights of Christmas where they are missionaries and I am excited to share with you their responses. I also asked them to share with us how we can be praying for them during the holiday season specifically, and I hope that you will join us in praying for these dear people during this special time of the year.
Highlights of Christmas in other cultures:
“Worshiping in Church Christmas day and keeping the meaning of Christmas true. Getting together with co-workers to keep up some traditions of our home-culture’s Christmas. Cutting a fresh pine tree in the “bush” of Africa is fun!” – Brook Seekins, Tanzania
“Being able to see how other cultures celebrate our Savior’s Birth, singing Christmas songs in Spanish, watching kids who realize that Christmas is about something more than Santa Claus, and simply celebrating the birth of our Savior with those you spend time ministering to year around.” – Kaylah Fosnot, Puerto Rico
“I’ve come to enjoy working with the ladies group and choir doing the Nativity skit at the local church in Kapenta. We love to see their interpretation of the Nativity! A lot different then our Americanized version but likely much more accurate. The sounds, smells and weather, people, and culture have brought me to a better understanding of what that 1st Christmas really looked like.” – Jodi Guilzon, Tanzania
“We are so thankful that no matter where we are or who we are with, we can celebrate the birth of our Savior.” – Kristy Lloyd, Malawi
“But I love walking into a kitengi and branch decorated church. Another plus is that no one expects expensive gifts. A can of Pringles is a fun gift! Oh yeah, the singing is awesome and one of my favorite services of the year.” – Lynn Caraway, Tanzania
“We get to see the joy of other believers who may sing all through the night to praise the Lord. We may get to offer a Christmas dinner to those who have never had apple pie and ice cream and they tell us that the food in heaven will be like this. We get to learn new Christmas carols and get a different take on songs like Silent Night. In Spanish this song starts with ‘Night of peace, night of love.’ We have open doors to share the gospel.” – Sally Roth, Nicragua
“We have had some great Christmases here in Tanzania, our home. We’ve even gone on several vacations during Christmas time where we did advent devotions out of the back of our truck! One of our most treasured Christmas traditions is advent devotions. We enjoy going to Christmas morning service here at our church. They often have a Christmas skit. Lots of times we get together with missionaries Christmas night for snacks” – Barb Sherman, Tanzania
Prayer is a privilege and something our Lord has opened the door to in our relationship with our Heavenly Father. Please join us in praying for our missionaries this Christmas season. Here are some of the things they have asked prayer for:
“Missing family, because being away from family is tough and prepping for Christmas programs, skits, choirs, is fun but exhausting” – Brook Seekins
“That we would find rest and time to reflect amongst the craziness that still happens when you are serving others on the mission field. That we would rightly share the true meaning of Christmas with all we come in contact with. That more kids would come to know Christ through the awe and excitement of the season.” – Kaylah Fosnot
“Missing loved ones. It’s the hardest time of the year for that with so many great Christmases of being together. So I try to appreciate those awesome memories and see God’s hand of great new blessings 🙂 Please pray that we can communicate, especially with the children that come to our house each afternoon, what it’s all about. So many of them don’t understand so we could use prayer that God would help them understand. Many of them only know their tribal language that they speak in their home and just a little Swahili. They are so adorable! Also, that we can balance the cultural traditions here with our own. Tanzanians love to do worship service all day and we like to have family time when we have no workers around the house and can enjoy each other and relax.” – Terese Benton
“I must confess that I also really miss the snow, shopping, parties, our church, and most of all family. New traditions mixed with the old can be fun at times, and discouraging when you try hard to recreate a food, a feeling, a tradition that just can’t be quite the same. Trying to make fluff from scratch over a propane camp stove, running out of propane moving quickly to the wood stove trying to maintain the right temp for just the right time…..all so that we could make peanut butter fudge (a family classic at Christmas) I must admit sent me into tears. Prayers for God’s grace and mercy is always needed especially during the Christmas season.” – Jodi Guilzon
“After 5 years in Africa, it is still strange to celebrate Christmas without cold and snow or family. This year we are blessed to have family join us in Malawi for Christmas.” – Kristy Lloyd
“As most people have written the absence of family (especially daughters) is felt most strongly at Christmas. We do try to carry on family traditions as much as possible…like cinnamon nut French toast! I also miss the Christmas programs.” – Lynn Caraway
“Yet we feel torn as we miss loved ones and traditions in our passport countries. I think a good prayer request for me is that God would help me keep my eyes on Him especially during this holiday season.” – Sally Roth
“It sure is hard to be away from Trevor during this time and our family. We need lots of prayers on that account. We want to be able to call Trevor on Christmas too.” – Barb Sherman
“It is bittersweet as we prepare to say goodbye for a long while. With the New Year in view there are many unknowns, but it is always such a good time to review God’s faithfulness to us throughout the last year and for me to make specific reminders of how God has taken care of me over and over again, things that I can go back to when I’m having a tough day.” – Debby Chapman (leaving in February for Nicaragua)
Please spend some time this Christmas season praying for our missionaries and if the Lord lays it on your heart, maybe send them an encouraging note.