On the drive home from Halloween, there were some tears shed over the things we were missing “back home”. As we talked after prayer time with the kids that night, we looked apprehensively forward to these moments of Christmastide. Combined with what we heard was a “6-month mark” that many missionaries report an “emotional crash”…we anticipated a rough holiday season.
The decorations are coming down across the city this next week, so I’m sure the bleak mid-winter moments are coming. But so far it’s been a full season – filled daily with new experiences, familiar recipes, and family/friends reaching out to us to connect and sending their love. It’s evident that God has been helping to warm our hearts in ways that sustain us and our children. We are so thankful for the ways we’re being prayed for.
Here are a few of the things we’ve learned:
- Printed liturgy makes a big difference when someone from another language/culture/country visits to worship with you. It was a blessing to be able to “follow along” as we attended Christmas Eve worship at a Hungarian Lutheran church.
- Most Hungarians don’t put up the Christmas tree until what we’d consider “late” – oftentimes in secret while the kids attend Christmas Eve worship. Some even strap their tree outside the apartment building, as a hiding spot. Some also decorate with sparklers IN the tree.
- Start shopping in October. With 4 kids, and buying on behalf of US grandparents (along with a car breaking down), the stores were missing some of what we were thinking of gifting by the time we made it.
- New foods – We were given a “leg of lamb” by our landlord for Christmas. No one was begging for it to become a tradition. One traditional dish here is Fish Soup, maybe that would make lamb more desirable? 😉 Sidenote: Christmas treats and pastries everywhere!
- New Year’s Eve is pretty much a free-for-fall with fireworks from 8pm until 2am – being launched from every direction. Think “a whole city of Michiganders and Illinoisans, 4th of July camping in Indiana.”
- The best time to have a car break down is now – holidays mean we don’t go anywhere. The worst time to have a car break down is now – holidays mean the car repair shop doesn’t open. (also – the nearest place that repairs an automatic transmission is in another city)
But overall, what we continue to learn as a family is what life can look like when you say to God “Here is my everything – use it to reveal your Love.” We pray that this next year would be filled with the same kind of learning and growing, as we serve in all the ways God is delighted to have us join what He is doing…
..and we remember – “Holy” can mean something that is “set apart” for the purposes of God. May your days be made Holy as they are filled with the Love of God revealed in Jesus, empowered by the Holy Spirit.