What is Christmas like for a missionary in the field? Well, it is wonderfully magical and terribly heartbreaking all at the same time. There is something truly holy about experiencing the celebration of Christ in a host culture. Sharing the strange customs, fascinating traditions, interesting foods and beautiful social rituals connect us in new and intimate ways. We are suddenly reminded that we are part of global community of believers connected by a common Love. Christmas unites us in joy. That's a missionary's Christmas.
But Christmas in our adopted home is at the same time isolating and lonesome. For the first few years, it's easy to put these feelings aside and revel in the new and exciting. Engaging with the host culture in-depth and with passion during this time comes naturally. But the longing to bake cookies, gather at candlelit services and stuff stockings with those you love can't be hidden forever. The family gathers together and they're thrilled to pass the phone around, but it makes the sting even harder to bear. It feels like you're losing them and even a little part of who you are to this new place and it's strange customs. Homesick...profoundly and utterly spent, exhausted and homesick. That's a missionary's Christmas.
But Christmas 2018 was different than any other we've spent on the mission field. Why? Because the God that sent His only son added to that joy and sent us our only son for Christmas this year.
There are no words to express what watching our two worlds collide on Christmas did to lift our spirits. We ate tamales and iced cookies. We sang carols in Spanish and stayed up all night playing dominoes. Our Honduran "family" welcomed our son like he was one of their own. And Nick relished every part of being "home" in Honduras.
Isn't it good that God knows exactly what we need exactly when we need it? Having Nick here was the spark that lit up our lives again. We were refreshed, loved and whole again. Our hearts were comforted and we spent the days caught between two cultures, but enjoying a rare sense of complete peace―a Christmas peace that will strengthen us for the year ahead.
The truth is that every Christmas in Honduras is never made up of just one emotion. It is a beautiful medley of culture, family and tradition fused together in an awesome, inspiring, frustrating, awful and amazing experience. That's a missionary's Christmas. And it is a blessing.