Wishing you all joy and peace this Christmas! May you experience more of God’s Presence as you pause and recognize the vulnerable Christ child among us. It seems ironic that although pausing at Christmas is necessary to see Him, it is in fact the most difficult time to be still. With frantic shopping, decorating, baking and partying it is a grand, heroic effort to stop and wait and listen.
Overwhelmed, anxious, busy people at Christmastime are NOT commonly observed in Uganda. Many of you sponsor a child and have received their letters sharing how they celebrate Christmas and it is much different than here. There is little to no emphasis on gifts or Santa Claus. Extra money to buy presents is rare, especially deep in the villages.
Instead, you read about the joy your child had attending church, worshipping, dancing, and then returning home for
a “special” meal with a rare bit of chicken or beef, or an egg. They tell about the family that visited and shared their meal. They spread their mats on the ground and eat together with their hands. Games may be played. Eating, laughing, singing and praying together are the norm. Presence is their present. As it begins to get dark they help each other clean up and walk home without even an expectation of a material gift. Then the children tell you it was their “Best Christmas ever!” They are “Present Pausers” which really brings these verses to life;
A man’s riches may ransom his life, but a poor man hears no threat (Proverbs 13:8)
Blessed are those… who walk in the light of Your presence, O Lord (Psalm 89:15)
In February MCM hosts an annual Christmas Party which we see over 200 children attend. We also worship and sing and dance. We also hear the Word of God, have a meal together and help one another clean up amidst much laughing and talking. In addition we sing “Happy Birthday Dear Jesus” cut a Birthday cake with flaming (Roman) candles and spraying soda. We pass out gifts and “sweeties” and cards from sponsors. There is much joy and celebration and lots of thankful smiles…His Presence again.
You will fill me with joy in Your presence (Psalm 16:11)
Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory! (Revelation 19:7)
I am learning lessons from all of this as I experience Ugandan life. I am in the process of minimizing my possessions so they do not possess me. I am committed to silent times every day attempting to grow in my “pausing” and “being present” skills. I have always loved a good gathering and opportunities to hang out with you – old friends, new friends and family. You inspire me with your generosity and your commitment to these little Ugandan teachers. I am on this journey, I have a long way to go and I am grateful to be on it with you! May you intentionally create the time to be blessed with His company this Christmas – Present Pausing – the best gift ever! Merry Christmas to you all!
Blessings ~michele 🙂