It’s December. December in the first world looks a lot different than December in the third. The vast differences that separate the two cannot be numbered. But the one thing that we can remember and keep in our hearts is the reason behind the season. Jesus. We can preach it all we want, we can say it all we want, but are we really putting our efforts into His coming? Are we really keeping the Christ in Christmas? Or are we getting too caught up in buying, sorting, wrapping, parties, and everything else that comes a long with this time of year? Some days it’s hard to catch a breath. But I’m challenging myself as well as everyone reading to stop in those moments of craziness and truly think and remember why we celebrate this joyous occasion. The Grinch said it really well when he realized that Christmas comes every year no matter the circumstance. No matter someone’s financial situation. No matter if there are 20 presents under a tree or no tree at all. No matter if the belief in the magical Santa Claus is alive and well or not.
“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”
The entrance of our King into the world happened in the most humblest of places. He was laid in a manger. Born into poverty. Let us not forget all of those who won’t be spending Christmas morning finding gifts from Santa. Let us not forget them in the excitement and magic of the day. Let us remember that He was born into this same life, and we are called to help all of those that are too and not forget them.
“And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.“
But his birth was so grand! I think of the Holy Family during this time, how overjoyed Our Blessed Mother Mary and Saint Jospeh felt at the coming of their son. Some of my favorite verses in Luke are these…
Luke 2: 16-20
16 So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. 17 When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.
And all who heard it wondered at the things. Marveled, were in awe, about the things that had been told to them about this Child. But sweet sweet and humble Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. Oh Mary, as you looked at your sweet babe in awe and wonder I know you knew what He would do one day for all of us. I know that not a day went by you didn’t think about this. Thank you for saying yes. Thank you for not being afraid. Christmas is the birth of our Savior.
It’s beginning to become a trend for our Brady bug to ask if Santa will be visiting our Liberian friends. He asked last year and has asked this year. This year I was a little more detailed in my answer. We all know the truth. Santa does not visit our friends in Liberia, a hard pill to swallow. But at 4 years old I won’t completely strip him of that magical belief that a bearded man brings presents down a chimney one night a year, but I also won’t lie. So I turned the question around on him this year. I asked what do you and Isaac pray for our friends to have mostly every night during prayers? He said, “rice for their bellies (they just mean food but rice just goes with Liberia to them), beds to sleep on, that they don’t get sick, and sometimes that they will have a family like mine.” Basic needs. I told him maybe it wasn’t Santa who brings them those things, but Jesus, because Santa is Jesus’ helper first and foremost. He looked quizzically at me for a second, and then asked if he could be Jesus’ helper also. Yes buddy. You sure can. He lives in all of us, all we have to do is be still and listen.
I haven’t written about our last trip, to be honest I am still in Liberia. My heart has never left. It was doubly hard to leave again and process it all but the biggest praise is that I got to see and hug all of our people. I got to laugh and joke, set eyes on, and love many of the people we spent our days with. They told me all of what God has done for them in the months we have been gone, and also all of the trouble they have been facing and are currently laying at His feet. It’s hard for an Ennegram 2 to admit it, but these people HELP me. They HELP me so much, and I can only try and get them to understand that. We went to many orphanages OAL serves we have been to (sometimes many times) before and saw many familiar faces. With the Best Version Project sponsorship program we were able to see all of the children currently sponsored, we were able to give them letters and pictures of their sponsee family, we were able to have them respond to a letter, some of which people have said it has been the best thing they have received. The children are well. They are thriving. Dry season is upon them so it will soon get very very hot. Kristi was able to administer some medicine, do health checks, listen to the children with issues, and so much more. She has a gift and that gift is medicine and medical knowledge. She was an angel to many of these children experiencing some painful issues.
We went from the city, Monrovia, in Montserrado County, to Gbarnga in Bong County, then down to Buchanan in Grand Bassa County, and finally finished the trip at Edina with our good friends. We dewormed at every orphanage, and distributed necessary products (female hygiene products, other meds, mattresses, etc.) In Gbarnga we got to stop by His Safe Haven (we actually went two times because it was so peaceful being there). It’s a community for special needs children. Liberia is one of the hardest places to live, add being a person or child with special needs on top of that and it gets much much harder. Because of some beliefs many families cast out their children/family members that are born with special needs. They try to poison them sometimes, or leave them, abandoned (note: that MANY families care for their special needs children, these are just some circumstances). All of these children that are at His Safe Haven now have their own home they live in with a foster mom/family. They get the love and care they deserve and the entire community is strong knit and it’s one of my favorite places to be in the entire country.
We took the long bumpy road out to LAC rubber tree plantation where an orphanage OAL serves is tucked far back in the bush, the entire trip took about 8 hours. These children are relatively unreached during rainy season. The roads were in deplorable condition but they were working to fix them. I asked the kids what story they wanted to hear as Zach was documenting kids for the BVP, and they said they wanted to hear Jesus book (meaning the story of Jesus). So I told them a small rendition of the birth story. They sat and listened intently, their eyes brightened when I came to the angel parts and as I closed one little girl approached me and told me that my book was too-fine (meaning excellent, wonderful). Not because it was ME telling the story, I assure you I am not the story teller my husband or Dad are, just ask my kids. But because of WHOM the story was about. They then asked for Jack and the Beanstalk, that was interesting in my attempt at the small small Liberian English I know to tell! They all got a good laugh from that one.
We got a lot done while on the ground, and we were overjoyed being back. Please continue to pray for all of our Liberian family and friends. We love them all so much and think of them often.
My biggest prayer for all of us right now is to calm our souls in this hectic time of the year. To focus our thoughts on Him and His coming.
Peace and love be with you all. Merry Christmas!