Christmas is coming, though being hot and sticky all the time and my pealing sunburn seems to be telling me differently. Reguardless, the approach of Christmas has brought up some fun stories and contemplation.
A few weeks back I was piled into the back row of a van along with several of the teens as we drove to the waterfall with students who where here for training. On the top of a distant hill I saw what I thought looked almost like an orchard. Wanting to know what kind of trees they were I pointed them out and asked the teen next to me, "What is growing on top of that hill?" He answered with a word I didn't recognize. Still thinking along the lines of an orchard, my next question was, "Can you eat it?" (I have been perfecting the art of asking questions to find out things I want to know) He gave me a weird look and then everyone within hearing started laughing. He carefully pronounced the word again, and when met with my blank stare, the girl next to him carefully said, "Christmas tree." My question was repeated through out the day and brought lots of laughter. And the question remains, can you eat a Christmas? Who knows...
Standing on the landing of the Alpha School with several of the students, we began discussing Christmas and they were asking about Christmas in America. I told them a little about it and said I was still waiting for the snow here because Christmas without snow just isn't ok. One of the students, with a big grin, said, "oh we have snow!" And pointed to the white fluffy clouds floating across and bright blue sky. "It stays up in the sky here." I am now my hopeful then ever that there will be snow for Christmas even if I do wear the coolest outfit I have for church and sweat the whole day. :)
The approach of the holiday season has not only brought about fun stories but contemplation. On Black Friday I was squeezed into the taxi be on my way to work with Haja on Malagasy. Looking out the window I saw everyone going about their lives as usual. Women sat by veggie stands on the side of the road. Men walked by pulling impossibly large loads on carts behind them. Children carried stacks of bricks on their heads. I thought of the crowds of people that I knew would be waiting outside stores in America waiting to crowd in and buy more stuff when they already had more then anyone here would ever even dream about. What does it look like to have "enough?" How can my two worlds, the one I grew up in and the one I now live in be so different? If only...if only those in America could see what I see everyday. If only the Malagasy people had enough. But then, what is enough?
One of names for God that I have always loved is Emmanuel. God with us. Each Christmas (and many times through out the year) I think back to a series of sermons at my church a few years back entitled 'He stooped to make us great.' It has always amazed me that Jesus was willing to come to earth for us. This year more then ever I can't seem to wrap my mind around the idea that Jesus left Heaven, came down here, and became one of us. Not because He had to but for love. For us. I am thankful for His example of sacrifical love more then ever this Christmas. This Christmas will most definately different then any Christmas I have had before, but one thing is for sure. More then ever before I will be celebrating Andriamanitra amsika! (God with us)