Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! The weather has turned really cold here with a possibility of snow today. As I type we are all snuggled up in the living room. The kids and Kevin are cutting out snowflakes for home school, and we are still cold wearing many layers of clothes and with two heaters on. Some days here are wonderful, and others we really wish… well we wish we had central heating. ☺
Holding Down the Fort
Christmas here is a strange time and one of the hardest seasons for us living abroad. Christmas isn’t celebrated here (except by foreigners), so the season just feels really different from what we are used to. We are listening to Christmas music, making Christmas cookies and crafts, and exchanging gifts with friends. So we are making it work, but it kind of feels like a regular day, only colder than we would like. And all of our closest foreign friends are leaving for several weeks, so we will be “holding down the fort” while they are away. I am sure we will be VERY happy when they return!
On Christmas Eve we plan to have a special day celebrating Christmas with our interns. We love having them here and all they add to our lives. And on Christmas Eve we look forward to the Swedish and Swiss traditions they will introduce to our family. Having international community is such a rich environment for all four of us to learn and grow!
A Local Funeral
Our best local friend just lost her grandmother to cancer this week. Our interns and family led the ceremony at the gravesite, which was a huge honor, as well as an interesting cultural experience. Our friend’s family believes in ancestor worship, so it was strange to see them putting apples, a cigarette and other things on the grave. They believe that a person’s soul lives on, and they need to eat in the afterlife. So it’s the family’s responsibility to provide for the departed what he/she needs. At the cemetery there was a store full of things like cardboard washing machines, iPhones, cars, etc. that the family will burn as an offering for their ancestors’ use. It made us thankful for the hope we have.
Our Christmas Party
Our new business had a Christmas cookie party recently. It was a huge hit with about 50 locals filling our office. They loved using cookie cutters, rolling the dough out, and eating the cookies. Many of them have never even used an oven and are fascinated by how we make things like cookies. Asian people are so precious, and it’s fun to watch them learn and try new things. You can check out pictures of the games, cookie making, and photobooth.
A Significant 2014
When we look back over the year, we are amazed by how much we have done. At the beginning of the year, we had no thought of starting a business in our city or having one as early as we did. But the money was provided, and now that we are up and running, we see good reasons for it and understand why Father led us in this direction.
And we are so thrilled at how our daughters have adjusted to this country. It has become home for them in such a way that they would have significant culture shock back in the US. They love it here, they love the people, they love speaking Chinese, and they are just happy little kids. As parents, it does our hearts well to see them thriving, not just surviving.
It has been a wonderful year, and we are so honored to be here, loving this place, these people, and having life changing experiences. Thank you so much to those of you who have sown into us prayerfully, financially, emailed us and encouraged us. We value you and appreciate you all so much, and we know life here wouldn’t be possible without you.
Wishing you a wonderful Christmas season,