They say your first big holiday overseas is the hardest. I can confirm to whoever “they” are that they’re correct. Christmas was incredibly difficult for me. If you know me well, you know I’m not particularly big about the holidays, but this one was rough.
Back in the States, even though I may not have ever done a lot, at least I had my roommate to celebrate with, regardless of how small it was. I don’t have many holiday traditions, but one of them is to watch It’s a Wonderful Life on Christmas Eve. So, I made some popcorn, turned on the movie, and before the opening scene came on, I started to cry.
I think this season was hard for me because it was the first time since I’ve been here that I felt truly alone. Yes, I had my team. Yes, I had the fellowship here. But, I still went home at the end of the day to an empty house, and that was tough. These feelings had been building up for months, and they finally came pouring out that night.
I’m thankful for my team. They have become family, and we did celebrate together. That month, we had a meal together, exchanged gifts, went to a Christmas festival in the area, enjoyed a big feast with the fellowship leader’s family and walked along the sea. They have all been amazing in coming around me in a very difficult time and making me feel loved and cared for. They really put 1 Thessalonians 5:11 to practice.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11
My encouragement to you marrieds is not to forget us single folk, especially around the holidays. No one wants to be alone. My encouragement to you singles is don’t be afraid to express your needs. That’s what the body is for.
Casting the vision
When people see us, we may not look like much, but man, do we love the Father. With regular attendance around 30 and a membership count of about 15 adults, we’re a small group. Fortunately, we serve a big Father.
We had our vision day at a beautiful hotel. While there, we broke bread together, sang together, listened to the word together and examined ourselves together. We talked about this past year and things we, as a fellowship, did well, and what we could do better. We reaffirmed our vision and purpose and started the new year with fresh eyes and fresh energy.
One of the biggest difficulties for us is finding a way to reach those in the majority belief around us. We know people are seeking, but they’re afraid. We talked about starting an ESL program. I don’t mean a few lessons here and there, but a legitimate ESL center with a quality curriculum. We know learning English is a big want for a lot of people, and this would be a great way to reach out to them. It would be done through the local body and located in the fellowship building. We don’t want to hide or deceive. Please be lifting this up as we begin to look for and form a curriculum for all ESL levels. If you have any recommendations, please send me an email. We hope to start this fall.
Help this missionary reach Middle Eastern women for Christ, bring them to saving faith and teach them to make disciples who make disciples.
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