HAPPY BIRTHDAY MISSION SOCIETY!!!
In 2007, we started with The Mission Society, in Norcross GA, our sending agency. This week we are at a conference with 100 other Mission Society Missionaries.
It is a triple celebration. It is the 30th anniversary, we have a new president-elect and it is the first time in 30 years, The Mission Society has almost all of its Cross Culture Workers under one roof.
We fell in love with the staff at The Mission Society as soon as we stepped foot inside the office. They, along with the other missionaries are an extension of our family and this is one huge family reunion. During this week, we have played, laughed, worshiped, cried and prayed together.
Thank you to all of our partners and supporters that have made it possible for us to serve in Costa Rica and for allowing us to attend conventions and training sessions sponsored by and for missionaries.
We continually pray for you and are so thankful and blessed by your partnership with our family and God's Mission.
I love Christmas, it is my favorite time of year. My mother believed in having a big Christmas. We weren't rich; in fact, it was a joke that when we pulled out our artificial tree, we also got the hammer, string and nails, so that we could attach the tree to the wall in hopes that it would stand up somewhat straight. It didn't matter if the tree leaned, that wasn't what it was about- it was about the birth of Christ, spending time together and receiving LOTS OF PRESENTS!!!
My mom would make sure that the tree was full of presents long before Christmas. When Santa came we had so many presents that the tree could not provide enough space, so Santa had to make piles around the living room with our names on the packages. By the time we were done, wrapping paper littered the entire room. I don't think that she meant to go overboard, but she tried her best to make sure we got the necessities (I always got socks and underwear), but we also received fun items.
Bryan and I got married while still in college. I remember our first Christmas and we were concerned that we wouldn't have enough ornaments on the tree, so we hung Animal Cracker boxes on the tree. We kept that tradition until moving to Costa Rica. I hope I kept at least one of those boxes in storage. I remember our gift exchange was very practical items that we needed around the house.
Bryan and I later took over my mom's toy store, The Elf Shelf. A few years later, we had our triplets. I tried to make their Christmas just like mine was as a child. There were a few differences though. The tree wasn't barren of gifts; however, there were only a few packages under the tree until Santa visited. It seems Santa would raid The Elf Shelf on Christmas Eve before visiting our house because a lot of the items looked familiar.
When they were a little older, I had heard of someone that gave their children three gifts, just like our Jesus, Lord and Savior received from the Wise Men. I loved this idea and tried to incorporate it. However, my memories of what Christmas morning "should" look like came into play. We explained to our children about the three gifts. I was so proud of myself and for a couple years, our kids did only receive three packages. The problem was that each package had multiple items in the box. Not exactly the message I was trying to teach.
Moving to Costa Rica made almost all Christmas traditions and comforts go on hold. Gift buying was more difficult. It was hard to know what the kids needed or wanted and even harder to find the items. A couple years, they received some fun, but junky toys and an IOU, to be used next time we were in the States. Not only were presents an issue, time with family and friends wasn't there. Sure, we could skype, but it wasn't the same and we didn't dare go Christmas Caroling.
This Christmas however, had the largest and most positive impact on our family. We celebrated the Birth and life of Christ with some old traditions and one that I hope will become a new tradition.
This past year, 2013, has been our most difficult year financially. We have had to make cutback to cutbacks. Our holiday time such as Birthdays and Thanksgiving were very simple and we spent the time sharing a meal together. Our children also celebrate their birthday in December, so we explained to our 18 year olds, that we needed to be practical and they would receive one gift, a computer to count for both celebrations. They seemed to understand, or were in disbelief, but still, I worried how they would handle not receiving a gift under the tree.
The five of us shared time together in the kitchen and made a Traditional Christmas dinner, complete with ham. The food was delicious, but even better was the company and the life experience of our guests of honor.
We shared Christmas Day with a family from Nicaragua. We first meet this beautiful family during a mission trip here and became friends when we worked in the Children’s home. They were our neighbors that lived on the same property and we bonded through the experiences we shared.
The idea of having them over for dinner was prompted when Carmen confided with me that their finances had been extremely tight this year and she didn't have enough money to purchase their Christmas dinner. Without an extra fuss, we cooked our normal amount of Traditional Christmas dinner and had plenty for them and even had leftovers. God is so good! I love how he provides abundantly the first time and still allows us to enjoy the leftovers!
This Christmas marked a change and new thought process for our family that we will cherish forever and ever!
This video was filmed inside an empty Church during one of our Medical Weekend Mission Expeditions.
Beth was so moved by a conversation between a Doctor that she was assisting and a 92 year old patient. This man finally committed his life to Christ. His daughters were so shocked, Beth had to go to them twice to convince them that he really did ask for forgiveness and salvation. Beth and Kirsten never heard background noise when filming because they were so in the God moment. Listen carefully because you can hear a lot of laughter and joy from the Kids Club.
Beth and the doctor had already seen this gentleman's wife and she is a walking Miracle. It was a little confusing how this man wasn't convinced after his wife was alive and walking after being hit by a car and told she wouldn't ever walk again.
Nevertheless, as this man countered every evidence of God and Jesus Christ, Beth didn't know what else to do except to pray that the Doctor would receive wisdom for the right words to speak and for the courage to speak them to this gentleman. The conversation was coming to a close as the doctor had already asked the gentleman twice if he was ready to accept Christ and was told, no, that he didn't plan on it. It was then that God told Beth to prompt the doctor to ask one more time. The doctor did and that was one of God's moments to shine!
Later, when Beth and the doctor were debriefing, he told her that a random couple had walked into his office a couple days before and asked to speak to him. They were missionaries and had never met this Costa Rican doctor, but God had told them to give him a word. They told him that he needed to go this weekend to whatever it was he was trying to decide about and that God had something big for him.
Wow, so many random faces in a sea of God's love and grace. We don't have to do much, but show up and allow God to move us for his glory!