Merry Christmas, everyone! The mission where we are working and (currently) living is closed for the holidays (all in all, the last two weeks of December), so we are enjoying some time "off" until the New Year. In that time, though, our Hope for Life team has been meeting to discuss our goals and strategies for 2012. We talked about what we want to accomplish as a group, as well as what people hope to do individually. Right now those lists are pretty long, so we're excited to see what God has us do in the New Year.
Other than meeting with our team, Tommy and I have been trying to do what we can to experience Christmas in spite of being away from home and our family. Apparently, we waited too long to go looking for a tree (the only ones that would have been available are fake trees, but those were all gone), so we ended up making one by draping a cardboard frame with green cloth. I think it came out pretty good, considering. We also put up some lights, garland, and a few decorations we brought from home. We're not really able to exchange gifts with our family this year, but our group is planning a "White Elephant" party Christmas Eve after we all go out for dinner together.
Speaking of dinner, something that has been really nice for me is that, with the mission closed right now, Tommy and I have free reign in the kitchen. I am at a place in my "culture shock" cycle where I really need a break from the local food. It has been so nice to bring back food from the grocery store and cook our own meals. Once we get in our house* that should be the norm, but until then I am enjoying this window of time where I don't have to share the kitchen. If all goes well, I hope to make some Christmas cookies this afternoon.
It has been weird not being home in Charleston during this holiday time, and we miss our family very much. It has been interesting trying to evaluate what really makes it "Christmas" to us, and so much of that involves our family and things that we do in Charleston with them. Of course, Christmas is all about Christ and about giving to others, but we're in a life situation where we're supposed to be focusing on Christ and on trying to love others every single day. I can honestly say that I do think of those things (and on a practical level) more now than I ever have. That doesn't mean that I always act on them like I should (I try!), but working with Misión para Cristo (Mission for Christ), I hear about Jesus all the time. (This is a good thing.) I have read various blogs and statuses on facebook talking about how we need to keep Christ is Christmas, but I struggle with how to do that in my current situation, how to make Christmas different from any other time. Well, I guess that's a good problem to have.
Anyway, I hope that each of you has a very wonderful Christmas and that the New Year brings awesome opportunities for you and your family.
Love in Christ,
-Becky & Tommy
*Update on our House situation: We have decided not to go with Oscar's house because he is not ready to part with it yet (and that's okay because the Hennigers have really enjoyed having him for a neighbor). However, Joel, Oscar's brother and the Hennigers' landlord, has another house on the other side of town (about a mile and a half from the Hennigers) that he has gutted and is rebuilding. Taking that house will leave our group spread out around the town, which we think is better so that we can impact more of the community. (Of course, the whole city is only 2 miles long anyway.) This house should have good space for visitors, and it has enough of a "backyard" that we can experiment with some gardening and composting. The only thing is that it isn't finished being built yet. We have been checking on it every week and progress is being made, but we're still waiting. Meanwhile, we're very thankful to Benny and Donner Baker for letting us continue to stay at the mission.