Merry Christmas! You are so loved. Wherever you are, whatever this year has held for you, you are loved.
I thought you’d enjoy this childhood photo I found while back at my parents’ house for the holidays (that’s me over there on the right). Hopefully, if anything, you can have a laugh out of it.
How has the food been? The drinks? The dancing? The reading? What are the beaches like? The mountains? The cities? What’s the weather like this time of year? Is it just as slushy as it is here in the Midwest? Or maybe more like an arctic tundra? Or maybe you’re nearly a puddle because of the heat (I’m looking at you Ben)? How’s language learning going? Have you learned any jokes? What’s the strangest thing someone’s said to you? The nicest thing?
What about crazy stories from the past few months? I’m excited to hear all about the adventures you’ve been on. Tell me about the times you did something fun – like wildly fun. Like that time you went hiking in the Alps or swimming in the Amazon. Or that time the person hit on you. Or that time you nearly died. I’ll hear about the ministry stories from your prayer letters and support updates later on (those are really, really good by the way and I’ve been praying for you).
How have you seen God through the culture you’re in? Does He reveal Himself differently? Are you seeing Him there?
That’s a TON of questions. Sorry about that. I just really want to hear how you’re doing. I know this year has been full of adjustment after adjustment after adjustment for you: culture, language, diet, faith, adulting, finances, home, friends, family, et cetera. Frankly, I have about a .000001% understanding of what you’ve been through at all and even after hearing all these stories and asking you a trillion tiring questions I probably won’t fully grasp it until I get down there to see you anyway (When are you free again?). So maybe rather than ask you a trillion questions again like I do every time I FaceTime you, I just wanted to reach out and say Merry Christmas.
I can imagine this time of year you might be feeling a ton of different things. Maybe you’re feeling like my cousin with the yellow sleeves and big smile on her face in that picture above. Maybe you’re feeling like my other cousin bawling in her arms. Maybe you’re like me in the picture – just dead confused about the what the heck is going on. Laughter may bust out when you hear about some interesting tradition that country has (@Germany, what’s up with Belsnickel?). Tears may be rolling while missing Christmas morning at home. Gratitude may well up that this is the first year in 20+ years you won’t have to listen to The Chipmunk Song by Alvin and the Chipmunks. Homesickness may be in the pit of your stomach thinking about friends and family you’d much rather be with. I don’t know what you’re feeling, but I want you to know whatever you’re feeling like, I wish I could be there to feel it with you.
If you need to vent it out or simply need to witness any parts of Christmas here, please don’t hesitate to have me FaceTime you. I’d love to have you there on Christmas morning and maybe even the rest of the day too (for those of you 8+ hours ahead, I’ll send you Marco Polos all day if you want). I’ll even cut you a piece of my mom’s Christmas morning egg bake and put it out for you if you want. At the very least, I want to remember you this Christmas and I want you to know you’re remembered here too – whatever it takes for you to know you’re loved.
I don’t know what you’re feeling, but I’m praying for deep, deep joy for you this Christmas, friend. I’m praying you experience awe at how God shows up this very day. I’m praying you’d have so much praise and worship and celebration well up inside you this Christmas day, no matter what your situation is like right now. You’re bringing the very news we’re celebrating this day into the world. You’re telling them about the real, culturally-transcendent Jesus that loves them so much. He loves you so much too. As much as I’d love to give you the biggest hug ever right now (yes, there would be legit tears in my eyes and I’d be laughing in joy), I’m so thankful for your sacrifice and your willingness to be there instead of here with me.
You are so loved.
One of Us Who Love You Back Where You Once Were