The Christmas season has come and gone, and what a season it was. If you read our post last month, you remember that Jay and I have a new little friend staying with us, while family members go through some tough stuff. He has officially been with us for over a month and what a month is has been. I have seen first hand the generosity of dozens of people, willing and able to make our transition a little easier. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you, thank you, thank you! What was a very stressful and confusing (for all of us) situation, was made easier by individuals who helped with every need we had whether we realized it or not. The news lately, and life in general, has shown how cruel and sinful this world we live in really is. However, the generosity and love poured on us during this time has proven to me that GOOD and GODLY people are still here, and making a difference in this world one random act of kindness at a time (yes that was an Evan Almighty reference...I love that movie!).
Along with our transition, Jay and I had the great responsibility and privilege of teaching the little guy all about Jesus in preparation for his birthday (Christmas). Jay, I, and little man attended his parents and brother's church, a beautiful, old building with great wood detail and cathedral ceilings. While we have been taking him to our church, he attends Sunday school and has never entered a sanctuary for worship. As we entered their church on Christmas Eve night, we got to see his little face literally light up at the site of the amazing cathedral sanctuary (the image at the top is of the sanctuary) and the joyous sound of the band and choir worshiping. He was awestruck. His little jaw literally dropped, and it truly was if he was entering into God's great presence for the very first time. He didn't want to leave! It was an amazing site to see, and to be honest, Jay and I needed that look, and that moment, just as much as he did. This past month has been emotionally challenging for everyone.
This season, I was/am reminded of why Jesus calls us to have faith like a child. No matter what is going on in life, no matter how confusing your situation is, or how scary what your going through has become, there is always a time to stop, take in the Spirit of God, let your guard down, and just let your jaw drop at how amazing God is even in the midst of constant question, worry, and frustration. The little guy demonstrated this the instant he walked into that old church sanctuary, and we needed to be reminded that no matter what is going on in our lives, or more specific: this situation, God is in control. He loves this little boy more than we do, He loves our Ethiopian son more than we do, and He has a plan for all us. I am learning to give up control to him and to stop daily and practice my child like faith.
Ok, time for our adoption update: The month of December dropped us down to # 100 on the official wait list. I was so hoping that we could finally put triple digits behind us, but hopeful that next month will definitively. This Christmas, our amazing family members surprised us by not having the annual gift exchange, but instead donating to our adoption fund to bring home our little one from Ethiopia. What an amazing act of generosity! We were completely overwhelmed. This past month has been a crazy roller coaster of emotions and with everything going on with our family (and our new little roommate) our adoption has taken a back seat. It was so wonderful to once again think and plan for our son, to dream of the day we see his beautiful face, our travels to bring him home, and the excitement of introducing him to this crazy wonderful family.
Lastly, a little education on Ethiopian Christmas, which will take place on January 7th. As you recall, Ethiopia follows the ancient Julian calender, so the dates are different. The celebration of Christ's birth is called Ganna. The day before Ganna, people fast in preparation for the next day. At dawn on Christmas day, everyone awakes and dresses in all white. Most Ethiopians have a traditional shamma, basically a cotton wrap with colored stripes on the ends. Everyone goes to mass very early, around 4am. The choir typically assembles in an outer circle and each person entering the church is given a candle. The congregation will walk around the church three times in a solemn procession, holding the candles. Then the mass takes place, with women and girls separated from the men and boys. The center circle is the holiest space in the church where the priest serves Holy Communion. So, while Christmas in our culture is over, Christmas has yet to take place in our "other" culture. Our decorations are down, but I am hoping the more we learn about Ethiopian culture, the more we will incorporate aspects into our culture and daily life, and perhaps next year we will keep the tree and decorations till after Jan 7th. This year, maybe we will wear a little white in honor. Happy Holidays everyone!