Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Maria's Christmas Eve

Maria's Christmas Eve

With permission, I share Maria Skinner’s reflections of a Christmas Eve:

I watched flurries of white flakes settle on the mountaintop. The small house for our missionary assignment in a high mountain village in Mexico had no heat. Wind stabbed through gaps around the windows and door, chilling the indoor air. It would be necessary for my husband, Dave, and me to keep our children, Shannon and David, fully clothed throughout the night.

“This is our first Christmas on the mission field,” I thought to myself. “No one in this village knows us. No one will visit or call. The children's grandparents live more than a thousand miles away. They will not be dropping by with surprise gifts.”

My daughter Shannon looked out the window, “Look Mommy, the children run so fast, even without shoes. And they aren't even wearing sweaters!” I tried to smile as I wiped tears from my face.

"Tomorrow is Christmas," I offered an explanation for my weeping. Shannon knew we had no money to buy a Christmas meal, not even a single gift. “It doesn't matter to me, Mommy," Shannon said. "We can mother the children."

Her words took residence in my heart. "Mother the children?" I repeated. "What do you mean?"

"Those poor children have no shoes. They need some gifts for Christmas."

"Oh, but how are we going to give them gifts?"

"I want to give them my things! They can have my shoes and dresses." Now she was very excited! "It is better to give than to receive. Remember what Jesus said!"

"Oh, yes, Shannon, He did say that!" I gave her a hug. My daughter ran to the cold, damp room she shared with her brother, and I helped her neatly fold her clothes. We wanted each item to look as much like a gift as possible. That night, we trudged through the snow, going house to house, giving what we could.

At village homes, children peered from behind the doors. They jumped up and down with eagerness. "Let me see, let me see!" At each home the parents reacted in disbelief and shock. Finally, they said, "Gracias, gracias! God bless you!"

That night we slept with smiles on our faces. We received far more than we had given. On Christmas morn, still excited from our Christmas Eve visits in the village, Shannon jumped from bed and ran to the door to look outside. We saw the snowy landscape sprinkled with the darting colors of village children squealing and laughing, wearing their "new" Christmas clothes.

“Thank you, Lord,” I thought. "You sent little angels to dance for us at Christmas!" That Christmas Jesus showed our young daughter how to bring joy to her family and an entire village on a high mountain in Mexico.”

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