Friday, December 8, 2017

Holiday Season for Senior Missionaries

The holidays are rolling around again. Our fourth Thanksgiving without children and grandchildren has just passed.  Because we served a two year mission in Hong Kong immediately prior to the one we are currently serving, it has been a long time since we have spent the holidays at home. We are facing our fourth Christmas.

Many senior couples might wonder how they could cope being away from loved ones during these tender moments.  Some may find that to be a key deterrent to serving a mission.  Admittedly, it is tough.  How does one do it gracefully?

First and foremost, we strive continually to stay focused on Jesus Christ and serving Him.  We might not be perfect as this yet, but day by day we remember Him as we pray individually and as a couple – praying for those who we miss at “home”, while praying for those with whom we are working here at this “home”. We work to remember that we are here just for a short time, just for one and a half years or two years, to possibly make an eternal impact on someone in helping them come to Christ.  Indeed, if we can be the means of even one person finding faith in Jesus Christ, the sacrifice will have been worth it. 

What if many come to Christ through our efforts?

Secondly, getting through the holidays is made infinitely easier when we stay focused on the people.  These are not their holidays. Thanksgiving and Christmas are full of memories from childhood that spark powerful emotions and warm fuzzies for us – but not for the Vietnamese.  To them the fourth Thursday of November is just another work or school day.  

Turkeys are not a thing here and cranberry sauce is hard to come by. 

It’s actually kind of easy to nearly forget about the holidays here. Largely because of the people. It’s always the people – people who bring us back to reality as we see their sacrifice, their faith -their simple, powerful child-like faith – that teaches us what it means to serve.  Rather than us serving and helping them, we are pretty sure we are the recipients of far greater blessings than we could ever leave with them.  They are teaching us so much about courage, faith and devotion to the Lord.

Though we might not be in the full spirit of the holiday season, nevertheless our hearts to “home” are always tender as we visit by Skype those sweet little family faces and share via email, Facebook, Viber, Skype or Instagram. Senior missionaries have privileges, and we take advantage of them!

So you scrounge up some quazie-holiday dishes and invite some of the young branch builders over to share in your bounteous “feast”  - and the turkey-lacking-football-missing holiday is filled with warmth and love anyways. We are creating memories of a new kind.

Our Thanksgiving guests!

It is nearing time to return home.  Christmas will come and go, the New Year will roll in quickly, and we will soon return to the arms and lives of our dearly-missed children and grandchildren. It will be so healing to be with them again.

But a part of us will always remain here, where our lives have been forever changed by the powerful, faithful saints of Vietnam. 

So how do senior missionaries pass the holidays on their missions? 

With the Lord, and with the people. As it should be.  

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