I originally posted this on my family blog two years ago…and recently came across it. It is exactly what I needed to read today.
As the weather turns cold and the Christmas preparations begin, I have been thinking back to one that wasn’t like any other Christmas I had ever known. It was one that was hot, very hot, windy, dusty and wonderful.
I was into the second Christmas of my mission and on a tiny African island in the middle of the sea where the people I served had little to any material possessions. And so my companion and I had decided that when you are living on an island where people have nothing–and I mean nothing, for some not even a pair of shoes, or a meal everyday; that we were going to give away Christmas every day. We wanted to give away almost everything that we had or were given to others.
It was a fun couple of weeks while a sudden idea would dawn on one of us about one more thing that we could give away. And we would run home and get it and take it to whomever it was that we had thought of.
Christmas Eve was our crowning event. We were so excited to rush down to the market and buy three small chickens (they would be cornish hens in our part of the world), three bags of rice and bunches of bananas for three families. We took our goodies home and put together three pretty pitiful treat plates and then headed out for our mission of the day.
We were going to the poorest of the poor. Not that I could even explain that because everyone was in need. We probably could have taken 200 of those meals around and still not everyone on the island would have eaten that day. But we really were going to the poorest of the poor. I remember loading all of our goodies into our backpacks, getting on the bus, changing buses, and then beginning quite a hike over hills and valleys to get to the three families.
And when we came over the last hill and saw the three houses, shanties if you will, that were just below, we knew that we had reached them. Dogs started barking and many of the children started running to see just who it was that was coming over the hill. I am sure that they were in shock to see us, as I know that there were probably not many visitors. As we neared the houses, the children started grabbing our hands and taking us down to see the rest of the families. When we got down to the houses and unloaded our belongings and said “Feliz Natal” and hugged the family members; I saw mothers cry….as I am sure that our pitiful chickens, small bags of rice, bananas, and flour cookie-like things were more food in one sitting than they had seen in a long while.
I am reminded of that Christmas this week–and I am desperately trying to recapture that feeling. Amidst all of my worries that the kids don’t have enough to open (we are going very simple this year), that I can’t do more for others, that my meager angel tree choices are not good enough, or that I need to do just one more thing; I wish I could go back and see that Christmas again…..when things were simpler, and the Spirit was more than I could have ever imagined.
Kristin PG says
Thank you for your post. I have been struggling a little this year with feeling inadequate because my family’s finances are not at the same point as most of my extended family, and of course that is evident when gifts are exchanged. You have brought Christmas into perspective for me, so thank you, and instead of focusing solely on the gifts I will be giving next week, I am going to focus on how I can glorify the Spirit with whatever I CAN do.
Love this post, Elizabeth. What an incredible memory to reflect on. Thank you for the reminder of how fortunate I am and how any effort, big or small, can make such a difference in someone else’s life.
Erin Shakespear says
Mmmmm, I love this. Thanks for sharing. It brought a nice warm fuzzy feeling to my heart. 🙂
this made me cry. Thank you for sharing. It reminded me of where I came from and how when I was growing up, getting a clementine for Christmas was the most amazing gift. How easy it is to forget to be grateful. Thank you.
I wish we all “got” it like this. Loved reading this post. Merry Christmas!