The day is winding down, the kitchen is a mess, my face is a little sunburned, the wifi refuses to act properly; I think it’s safe to say I’ve survived my first Christmas away from home. This day has been a long time coming. Since December began, we’ve been rehearsing and rehearsing at PEPE for their little Christmas play and with the youth for different events. Let’s just say this week before Christmas has been the most exhausting week ever.
We faced crazy kids at PEPE, were out of the house all day Saturday doing stuff with the youth, and performed in Church on Sunday. By the time Christmas Eve came around, we were all pretty tired, but all the events we faced leading up to our little break made the exhaustion all worth while. It was doing these event that reminded me about the importance of the Christmas story and how it really can change lives.
I’m not gonna lie, Christmas is different in Cape Verde. No freezing temperature, no overly decorated houses, and no peppermint anything, but I wouldn’t trade this Christmas for the world. Last night we made banana bread and binge watched Christmas movies and exchanged our secret Santa gifts. We all moved our mattresses into the living room (to keep up with the tradition of last year) and all fell asleep watching The Grinch. This morning I made inedible monkey bread and some American coffee. We spent our day at the beach in the sunshine, adventuring and climbing rocks and swimming in freezing cold water. We spent it with some Brazilian missionaries, and Brazilians make the best steak, so I ate a good meal. I tried chicken heart for the first time and really experienced another culture.
Being so far away from home forced me to also reflect on the reason for the season. A few years ago, Christmas didn’t really have joy for me. The presents were only a temporary fill, there was a little bit of drama going on with my extended family and I honestly wasn’t so excited about “the most wonderful time of the year.” That’s when I realized that I’d completely miss it; I’d completely missed the meaning of Christmas. I went back to scripture and realized Christmas isn’t just about celebrating his birth. When you celebrate a person’s birthday, it’s not so much about the day they were born as it is celebrating their life. It’s not about presents or Santa or mistletoe, but it’s really about Jesus, the life he live among us and the death he died for us. A simple thing that so easily is forgotten during this time of year. So continue to celebrate as the Christmas season comes to a close and the new year approaches us because this season isn’t just about his birth, but it is about the gospel.