Christmas in America After 21 years in Haiti

I have never been in Haiti for Christmas, but I think about it a lot while we are here.  I think about what our kids are probably doing compared to what we are doing.  I think about what our American friends are doing in Haiti while we are here.  I also think about our Haitian friends who have never seen Christmas here in the states and how shocking it would be for them if they did.  This is the reason for the post today.  First, the good news…One of our employees (John Leley) will be in America this Christmas as he was approved for his student Visa yesterday!  He was teaching our children after school while he was attempting to move to America to pursue a Civil Engineering degree and he got his Visa!  We will miss him, but we are so excited for him and it gives us hope as we attempt to help Makenson (you heard about him in a different blog that you can read by clicking here) get to America as well.

Anyway, I started thinking about this because Leley will be traveling to Pennsylvania on Dec. 22 to attend school there and I cannot imagine the culture shock that he will experience.  He has spent the past 21 years of his life in Haiti and all of a sudden he is going to find himself in Pennsylvania just 2 days before Christmas.  It made me think about what he is going to experience and the differences that exist between Christmas here in the states and there in Haiti.  Here are some things that come to mind, but there are so many more…

  • He is going to miss his family way more than he could possibly realize.
  • He is going to miss Haiti a lot (just ask any Haitian who moved here later in life).
  • He is going to see lights and electricity everywhere.
  • The family he is staying with will probably give him a gift of some sort.
  • He will probably eat the biggest meal of his whole life.
  • He will be extraordinarily cold…he doesn’t even have a jacket yet.
  • He will experience a hot water shower for, and I mean this quite literally, the first time in his life.
  • He will drive on smooth roads.
  • He will visit an American grocery store for the first time and see all of the options available to him.
  • He will have consistent cable television, and he will see the Christmas ads that come on television every 10 seconds.
  • He will have more access to worldly comforts than he has ever had.
  • He will see and utilize heat (both in the car and house) for the first time.
  • He will see snow.
  • He will attend class in prime learning conditions for the first time.

I could go on and on, and I probably didn’t even touch the most important things, I am just kind of throwing some things out.  I can’t even imagine coming to America after being where he has been, and I mean both the positive and negative aspects of it.  Jessica and I just watched the Disney movie “Million Dollar Arm” last night, and it portrays (to a very small extent) the culture shock of coming from a 3rd world environment to the United States (I would recommend it to get a taste of what Leley will experience).  

Now, I want to get to the real point of this blog, to challenge myself and anyone else who is reading this to think about how we view Christmas here.  We get to celebrate with gifts, family, food, parties, and a lot more here and it is awesome.  This is such a great time of the year here, and I would love to be able to spend every Christmas here with my family and friends.  But there is a challenge in the midst of it.

I can find myself forgetting the coming of Christ in the midst of Christmas.

How sad is that?  How sad is it that I am in the midst of these amazing blessings that Leley could not possibly understand until this year, and I forget about the greatest birth in the history of the world.  I get so caught up in the gifts, the lights, the parties, and even spending time with my family and these things no longer remind me of the Savior who came.  Leley is going to experience some incredible things this Christmas that will truly change his life, but I hope it does not take his attention off of his Savior.  

Let’s challenge ourselves right now to experience Christmas in light of our Savior.  

To have every light we see remind us of Christ, and every party we attend remind us that there is a world out there who needs a Savior, every gift we open remind us that there are BILLIONS of people throughout the world that will never open a Christmas gift, and every feast we partake in remind us that there are MILLIONS of people throughout the world who are starving and will never even imagine a meal like the ones we eat daily.  While we are experiencing all of these incredible blessings literally every single day of our life, I beg you (and myself) to not forget where these blessings come from, to not forget that we have the privilege and responsibility to take these blessings to the world in the name of Jesus.  Jesus came here after leaving Heaven, how could we not go wherever He wants us to go to make sure everyone in the world knows Him!

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