Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas Blessings...

This Christmas was different... I tried to prepare myself for the worst... What would my first Christmas away from family and loved ones be like? Although it was very different from how I normally spend my Christmas, I found this one to be a time of joy and thanksgiving as it should be :D
My Christmas started with my working night shift Christmas eve. It was set to be a fun shift!!! My friend Brittany was on with me as well as a few of our Filipina friends and two other fellow missionaries. Our shift didn't seem to be busy, but Brittany helped welcome a baby right before midnight as I was helping another laboring mother.
We laughed and talked and enjoyed each others company. The woman I was helping shared with me that she was nervous about this baby. She was 21 and this was her 3rd girl. She had thought the baby would have been born before Christmas and was sad that her 2 1/2 year old and 1 year daughters would wake up Christmas morning without her at home...
What could I do, but pray with her and encourage this mother that everything would be alright and that if things continued to progress she would be home before lunch.... with a new Christmas present!
As labor continued, we knew she would deliver soon... and we were correct!
At 2:53am baby Zabreena was born in the cull!... this is when the membranes do not rupture before birth and there is little fluid between the membranes and the baby's head... it was the first time I had ever seen a birth "in the cull"! Baby Zabreena also had a double nuchal cord and an "ankle wrap" (the cord was twisted around her neck twice and her ankle once).
It was a wonderful start to my list of Christmas Blessings...

After this delightful shift, and a quiet walk back to the house with Brittany, I was able to have a few hours of sweet sleep before attending a  Christmas Brunch at the other house. We had a lovely time of fellowship, then returned again. After preparing Christmas dinner, I laid on the couch thinking I would keep an eye on dinner... and awoke 2 hours later when Melissa returned from the clinic... Thankfully nothing burned :D (another Christmas blessing)....

For dinner, I made pork stuffing, mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli, and breaded chicken breasts. Our little house had a quiet meal together, enjoying each others company.... This was followed by heading off to another Christmas party and more fun, christmas cookies, games, and fellowship...

After this last party (can't ever remember having 3 Christmas parties in one day- on shift, brunch, and dessert) I returned and had the wonderful opportunity to skype with my family for a few hours! What a great ending to a very different Christmas!

So although very different, far from home and in a foreign land, I still had a joyous day celebrating the Saviour's birth with new friends, and my precious family! God is so AMAZING... I am so very thankful for the blessing of modern technology... My Christmas, different, but saturated with blessings!

Now I am looking forward to the new year with excitement... I can't wait to see how the Lord will work and provide! When I think how much I have learned in the past year, I stand in awe of His goodness and faithfulness.... My God is Above ALL!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

I heard the bells...

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

Till ringing, singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.

As I heard the words of one of my favorite Christmas songs the other day, I was reminded of how good our God is. This past week has been very hard. The island of Mindanao was hit hard by the typhoon. Although the city I live in was untouched, the center hit 30 miles away, within our province. Death and destruction are everywhere.
Some of my friends joined a relief team. They came back with the news that the reality is worse than the reports. Well over the reported 500 have died. Many people are dying still from complications (lack of clothing, food, housing, wounds etc). The main way people make a living in that area is from coconuts, which take 12-15 years to mature... most of these trees were destroyed by the storm.
Despite all this tragedy, good still occurs. My friends who were able to go and help shared many stories of the heart break, but also of the many miracles they witnessed...

So yes, as Christmas approaches, a disaster occurred but more disastrous is the condition of the souls that are lost and dying every day. As you pray for the relief efforts, please also pray that many opportunities will arise to share the Lord with these people.... that is what they really need... to accept the Giver of true peace and goodwill and change their lives forever.