Update From the Other Side of the World

Posted on December 24, 2012

It’s Christmas morning here in Eburru. It is the midnight hour, but Christmas still.

There are a group of women in the maternity building next to my house, waiting for a baby to be born. A gift of new life on Christmas Day. They are waiting with excitement and joy, eager to welcome the new little one into this crazy world.

This waiting brings to mind a different birth. The birth of the one baby that would change all of history. The baby that would bring hope and light and love into a dark place.

In my mind I have written this update at least a dozen times. And in my mind I can never quite get to the actual writing because I can’t quite figure out how to put everything all together. How to wrap it in a letter and send it to you. Sometimes life doesn’t fit in a letter. Sometimes life fits in a manger.

I think of the amazing kids of Eburru tonight. They are not going to bed listening for Santa, or expecting to open presents they have seen under the tree. If they are lucky, they are going to bed happy because they got a Christmas feast tonight. Maybe there was some extra ugali, or maybe there was some extra mokimo. Or if they are really fortunate, there was meat for dinner tonight. And if they did have this Christmas feast they feel full, and satisfied. They don’t think about not getting presents because they know they have been well fed and they know that doesn’t happen all the time. As I picture these kids falling asleep tonight I think of how fun it was to give them sweets today. I think of how fun it is every time I go give them sweets. Laughing with them, loving on them, and making their day a little brighter just by letting them know I remember them. When I see them I am reminded of how God remembers us. How He never forgets us, and how He gave us a gift far better than food or sweets.

While Christmas is a time for thinking of birth and new life, I can’t help but think of all the life that has been lost this last month. There are kids tonight going to sleep without their moms. Families whose lives will never look the same because Mom is not around anymore. Kids who will come live in the orphanage now because there is no one else to take care of them. And yet, even in spite of all the death, life continues. Life somehow triumphs over the tragedy. Life holds hope, love, and peace. Death loses its sting. Birth brings victory.

I had no idea what Christmas in Kenya would be like. No idea what emotions I would feel being here in this place I love so dearly that is so far away from what I have always known Christmas to be. Maybe I had thoughts of what it would be like to be here, but those thoughts were just shadows of the goodness that is here. I have seen and experienced God in new ways this Christmas. I feel Him all around me. I see Him in the love my friends have for me. I see Him in the laughter of the children. I hear Him in the stories of the brokenhearted. I feel Him in the pain and sadness the people carry. I see Him in the hope and joy in people’s eyes. I know He is with me. Every day. Having Him so near, having Him bring a bit of heaven to earth, and letting me see it and feel it and touch it, that is a Christmas gift far better than I ever could have imagined.

As you get ready to open gifts today, may you be reminded of the baby born in a manger, the baby that came to bring light and life and hope. I am forever thankful I am in a place where I can sit on Christmas Eve/Morning and listen to the sounds of women waiting expectantly for a baby to be born. Thankful I can share in the joy with them, and thankful for the reminder that Immanuel, God is with us.

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