A time of giving thanks and celebrating.
It’s the same all over the world.
Christians get together on Jesus’ birthday.
As my 9 year old friend said, “Christmas isn’t about presents, it’s about Christ” .
A time of focusing on Jesus Christ, the best Gift we could ever have.
Sometimes I wonder what unbelievers think of Christmas.
They sing the songs.
Do they just suppose that it is all a fairy tale?
That it is just a story?
My heart is heavy for them.
They are missing the truth of the most amazing story.
Here, in Tanzania, Christmas is marked by green grass and rain continuously falling.
The missionaries are virtually the only ones decorating and buying gifts.
We still keep these American traditions alive, though it is sometimes difficult.
Instead of going to a ‘Christmas tree farm’, we tromp through forests in search of the perfect
tree, though a perfect one is rare.
Instead of going to the mall, we scour markets filled with the same things we bought last year.
And since buying gifts proves to be a challenge, we are happy to receive even boxed milk or a poster of fruit.
Humor usually reigns in the gift choosing process.
The Tanzanians are generally confused with our decorating and caroling.
They stare at us a bit strangely when we drive through the village with our newly downed Christmas tree strapped to the roof rack.
And they can’t understand walking around in the dark with candles, singing.
Although I’ve had one or two “White Christmases”, I still prefer “Green Christmases”.
Don’t get me wrong, White Christmases are nice.
There’s family and snow and amazing food.
And people understand what you’re doing.
But it’s not home.
Christmas should be spent at home.
Which is why my heart aches for my brother who is so far away.
With families coming together all around us, it makes the hole even bigger.
We are filling the hole (or trying to) this year with our Tanzanian family.
And how fitting because this is my last Christmas at home for a while.
Soon I’ll be off to freeze in the snow and enjoy all the Christmas lights.
It makes leaving harder when virtually all of my memories of Christmas have been green.
When Christmas has always been in our own home.
I remember waking up and running as fast as lightening into the living room, and then having to sit through an entire African Christmas service until we could open all our presents. I imagine I was quite impatient as I sat on the grass mat on the floor of the church with the rest of the children through the looong service.
I remember two “White Christmases”.
They were cold and the lights on every house were beautiful.
I remember family visiting on Christmas in Africa.
And I remember multiple Christmases where my missionary family filled in for real family.
Sometimes it’s difficult to switch houses constantly and still feel at home.
And sometimes it’s difficult to switch ‘family’ constantly and still know who is closest to you.
There has always been something comforting about our green Christmases.
Though we are virtually the only ones giving gifts and finding a tree, it’s fine.
Even though we are still half way around the world at Christmas time.
Away from all the snow, Christmas lights and family, our Christmases have the same heart.
Jesus’ birth is still celebrated all over the world.
Songs are sung in His honor and for His praise.
And God is still with us. With all of us.
This season is a time of celebrating and giving thanks to God for the best Gift of all.
This blog was written by Stefanie Sherman, daughter of Steve & Barb. She is a Senior in High School and lives in Mumba, Tanzania with her family. She is a light for Christ and has invested her time and life in the things of the Lord. Merry Christmas from Grace Ministries International. http://www.gracem.org