Over the years since I have been a missionary I have spent many holidays away from home and my family which is one of the things that is sometimes really difficult for me at times when I am living overseas especially when it is at Christmas time. I remember my very first Christmas away from home was when I lived in South Korea for a year which was in 2006, I had many Christmas celebrations in Romania and last year I was in Czech Republic when I led my very first DTS outreach.When I think about it now in the last 10 years I have only spent three Christmas celebrations in Canada with my family since I have been living overseas which was in 2009, 2014 and this Christmas that just past (2016).
My heart is filled with so much gratitude that God has always placed such amazing friends around me to celebrate the holidays with especially at Christmas time that I never spent it alone. It was such a joy to be able to celebrate the Christmas holidays with different families that had invited me into their home including a Romanian family, different missionary families and also the DTS students when I was on outreach. Being away from home during the holidays is a time that missionaries including myself go through times of homesickness but these times can also be very memorable ones when it is spent with people who become like your family away from home as well.
This past Christmas (2016) I thought I might spend another one away from home because I believed that God had spoken to my heart to go on my school’s optional outreach when I did a leadership training school at the YWAM LA base last year in the fall but then the Lord re-directed me to go home so I flew back to Canada after my school’s graduation to be able to spend the Christmas holidays with my family which I am now very grateful that I was able to spend another Christmas with my family. I will write more about the season of transition that I am in right now in another blog entry but for this one I would like to write about how my Christmas and the New Year’s celebration was in Canada.
The first two weeks I have been in Canada (December 18th – January 1st) my time was extremely busy especially because it was during the Christmas and New Year’s holiday time. During these two weeks my brother Jonathan was off work so he spent it at my Mom’s house which was really nice that I was able to see him more and spend some time with him. Jonathan lives in Brantford which is an hour and a half west from Whitby which is where my Mom lives so he usually comes to visit on the weekends so it was really great that he was able to get two weeks off of work for the holidays for us to spend more time together.
The first couple of days I was in Canada I did a lot of errands especially to do my Christmas shopping and then the rest of the holidays it was pretty busy with traveling and visiting my relatives. My Christmas Day celebration was spent in the States when I went to Fairport, New York with my Mom and my brother Jonathan from Friday December 23rd -26th. Last year in May my Grandma moved to a retirement home so this past Christmas was the very first one that we didn’t spend it at her house which was very different but I am so very grateful that my Mom did such an incredible job in making it really special for my Grandma where she lives now.
I spent three nights with my Mom and my brother at my Grandma’s little apartment at her
retirement home and it was really nice to be able to spend some good quality time with my Grandma for Christmas. On Christmas Eve I spent most of the day with my Grandma while my Mom and my brother Jonathan went out to do some errands and then in the evening I went to church with my Mom and Jonathan.
On Christmas Day I went to my Grandma’s church with my Mom and Jonathan and then the rest of the day was a very special family day at my Grandma’s retirement home. I am so very grateful that we were able to get a room at my Grandma’s retirement home to be able to have Christmas dinner with not only my Grandma, my Mom and Jonathan but also my uncle Tom, my cousin Candace, her son Zaki and three other friends who also joined us as well.
I was so very impressed how incredibility delicious my Mom made the Christmas dinner
and I was also really touched that my Mom made it so special for my Grandma especially with the table decorated so nice as well. On December 26th we just had some time together at my Grandma’s retirement home and then it was time to say good-bye around 6:00pm that day. I honestly do not know how much longer my Grandma will be alive for but I definitely want to cherish the moments that God gives me with her right now. On the way back to Canada we stopped to visit Al and Diane who are good friends of ours which was a real blessing to be able to connect with them for a couple hours.
On Wednesday December 28th, my brother Jonathan and I went to Kitchener which is an
hour and a half west from Whitby where our Mom lives to celebrate Christmas with our relatives on our Dad’s side of the family for the day. We had a really great time together and it was such a blessing to be able to spend time with my cousins, aunts and my uncle.
This was the first Christmas celebration that my cousin Aaron and his wife Lyndsay had it at their house which was really nice and I was so touched by their hospitality that they offered to us throughout the day as well. It was also the first Christmas in Kitchener with two babies as well (my cousin Aaron and his wife Lyndsay had a baby boy last year in February and my cousin Deanne and her husband Robin had a baby girl last year in July) which was so much fun.
On Thursday December 29th, my brother Jonathan and I celebrated Christmas with our
Dad. We went to the Montana restaurant in Scarborough for lunch and spent a couple hours together which was really great to be able to spend some time together. We had a really nice lunch, exchanged gifts and took some pictures as well. It really breaks my heart that I cannot celebrate Christmas with both of my parents together like it was growing up in a family unit, it is definitely not the same anymore since my Dad has left my Mom but I am really thankful that I can still have a relationship with my Dad and celebrate the holidays together with him as well.
On December 31st for the New Year’s Eve celebration I went to church with my Mom and Jonathan for a special New Year’s Eve service at the Embassy church in Oshawa from 7:00 – 9:00pm. It was a really great service and I really felt in my heart that God spoke to me a lot through the sermon which was so very encouraging. The sermon was on the scripture passage from Psalm 119:49 – 56 and there were three main points that the pastor preached on which were: 1) verse 49 – there is an alignment for your promises from God, 2) verse 52 – we need to divide or cut our time for rest and 3) verse 55 – in your alignment and place of rest God will teach you how to use your sword which is the word of God. We will also need to fight for our provisions as we declare the word of God and His promises. After the sermon finished there was also a man who came up to the front to give a prophetic word how the year 2017 is going to be a year of restoration. I am really glad that I went to church and then afterwards my Mom and I had a nice relaxing evening at home where we watched a movie and said Happy New Year to each to other.
On January 1st for New Year’s Day I celebrated the first day of 2017 with my Mom and my
brother Jonathan by having a special Christmas celebration together at my Mom’s house. We began the day by having a delicious brunch that my Mom made, then we had a relaxing afternoon and then in the evening we continued our Christmas celebration with a delicious dinner, we exchanged gifts and then we had dessert together.
I thought it was really nice that we also invited a couple of people who rent at my Mom’s house to join us for dinner and dessert. Again, I really missed my Dad being a part of our family Christmas celebration but I really would like to praise God for the joy and the peace that He gave us on January 1st. Jesus truly is our prince of peace!
My heart is filled with so much gratitude that God gave me such a wonderful Christmas and New Year’s celebration. It was such a blessing from the Lord to be able to spend the holidays in Canada and to be able to spend it with my family as well which is not something that I have been able to do too often since I have become a missionary so when I do get this opportunity to be with my family at this time it is a special gift from God and I definitely do not want to take it for granted. I really hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year’s celebration with your families too.