Christmas is an odd thing to celebrate in a city that doesn’t really celebrate it and where you don’t have family. Even so, we’re certainly trying, and it’s been fun in its own weird way!
One of the traditional Christmas celebrations in Mae Sot is caroling. It is a pretty significant event that churches prepare for weeks and months. For many churches and groups, it is a sort of fundraiser; there is a sort of expectation that you’ll make a small donation to the crew. Most years we’ll get at least three or four church groups at our door, and its always fun! The neighbors come around to listen, too. We love to hear the traditional carols in different languages as well as a few local Christmas favorites that we’ve come to know.
Our favorite carolers this year were the kids from The Refuge. The Refuge is a small children’s home just outside of Mae Sot, and I have been taking Karen lessons from their house mother for over a year. They are such a lovely family themselves, since she & her husband just had twin girls this year, and their whole house of kids is a great little picture of family.
And they were excellent singers!
For our last flower delivery before Christmas, we thought we’d encourage San Aye to make some cookies to give to her regular customers. So many of the women and families purchase flowers week after week, and it seemed like a great opportunity to say thanks!
I imagined San Aye & I baking cookies and decorating them while her son played in the community space quietly. It was fun, picturesque, and the cookies looked amazing.
This was clearly over-optimistic. Four women joined, which is more fun, but a little less calm & organized. They also brought their children along, who brought their friends…so there were about twenty kids having a free for all in the community space, while I attempted to teach the traditions of American Christmas cookie baking.
Stephen & I both went to deliver flowers as it was a big day–being right before Christmas, people tend to purchase more flowers to decorate and we also had the cookies to give out. It was the two of us plus San Aye and her son Na Le Ton. It was actually his third birthday, so he came along to celebrate! San Aye’s mother-in-law, who runs the flower business, came to join us, too.
On the Sunday before Christmas, our Burmese church hosted it’s Christmas service & party. We had fifty people from the community join us, which is great!
These fifty people also required four trips to get there, and four trips to get home…and that still puts at least twelve people in each load in a Suzuki meant to hold four.
The church wasn’t expecting so many people, so we actually ran out of seats and food for lunch. We also temporarily lost two five year old boys.
It was a pretty rough morning all around, but everyone left with a gift from the exchange that they all seemed pretty excited for. We also brought back all the people we took, which turned out to be a significant accomplishment!
This was our first year to participate in our church Christmas party, and we still need to work on making it all a little smoother. Our community dinners are still improving, so we’ll keep learning and trying!
Our home church had a candlelight service on Sunday night, which turned out wonderfully. As it was mostly worship, Stephen coordinated a lot of it. He did such a good job and is right in his element when playing an instrument.
We read through an Advent this year by John Piper. He had it as a PDF online, so we were just going to print a copy to use. However, I wasn’t keen to pay to print 60 pages, so I put four-to-a-page and printed it at a shop. It was quite a bit smaller than I expected, but it seemed read-able. And if I printed it again two-to-a-page, I’d be very near to the 60 pages I was avoiding!
I went with it, despite the shop owners questioning look.
I cut up each of the pages to divide them into our Advent calendar, and I read them aloud.
Stephen laughed pretty much every night. He couldn’t move or bump me while I read, because its hard enough to read them as is! We also don’t know if I read all the verse references correctly because tiny italicized numbers are very difficult to decipher.