Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas 2014

The kids were not supposed to wake us up until after 6am, so Levi waited until 6:02 am to come into our room and wake us up.  He has a watch and counted down the time.  
Here the kids are ready and waiting....

 We don't have too many Christmas traditions but one of them is to have breakfast for supper on Christmas Eve and another is to read the story of Jesus conception and birth from the Bible before unwrapping the gifts.
Below, Zoe and Levi are following along in their Bibles.

 Let the unwrapping begin....

We are so grateful for your support of the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering that allows us to live and minister here in Zambia.

Merry Christmas from The Lowes in Zambia!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

What is next week?

It was Kids Ministry Day today and it happened to be exactly one week before Christmas.  I broke from chronologically storying the Bible and went back to tell the story of Jesus' birth again this afternoon.  We had lots of kids today - over 80.  It was heartbreaking to me to look out over 80+ beautiful ebony children, ask them what holiday is next week and nobody knows what holiday it might be.  Think on that....a church full of kids that did not know that Christmas is next week.  
I don't even know where to go with that.  It resonates deep in my heart.

Today, I brought with me about 130 brand new Crayola Crayons to give to the kids as a small Christmas present.  I had thought that I might be able to give them two, maybe even three crayons each but as more kids filed into the church this afternoon, I realized it would have to be only one crayon for each child.  They were very, very thrilled to each get one single crayon.  They knew what they were because we had colored pictures together a couple of times before today.  
As I was feeling a bit downcast for these kids, I realized that I had done far more than just give them one crayon for Christmas - I had taken the opportunity to share about the birth of Jesus and make the connection for them that this baby that was born in a stable is the same Jesus that we have been talking about recently - the same one that healed the blind, drove out demons, walked on water, fed 5000+ people; and was crucified, buried then rose again to save the world from their sins.  This is not about me, please don't believe that - about what I did but it is totally about the Gospel.  We would not have this Good News if not for that baby in the manger.  

Just a few of the kids with their crayon.

So, let me go out on a limb here.  Which is better - 1 crayon or the Gospel?  Which is worse - teaching our children that Christmas is all about celebrating the birth of Jesus but then showering them with mounds of Christmas presents or children who would only receive 1 crayon along with the Christmas Story and a Gospel presentation?  

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Getting Ready for Christmas

Maybe this is something that you don't know about me - I am usually not extraordinarily excited to put up the Christmas tree and decorate for this very joyful holiday. Case in point - we finally put up our Christmas tree today with a little over two weeks until Christmas Day.  I was actually waiting for the kids to say something about putting up the tree before we lugged everything down from storage.

 Here are the kids going through all the decorations (yes, it's just that one plastic storage container).

 Finding the old friends from last year...

 I used to be worried that the tree had to look just right.
Now, I just let them put things where they want.

The finished product - then they were ready for homemade hot chocolate!

Even though I really do feel that I have adjusted very well (emotionally and spiritually) to living in Zambia, Christmas still is a bit difficult.  Not that I am incapacitated with grief but those twinges of homesickness do come a little more often the closer it gets to Christmas.  Maybe that is why I don't usually like to make a huge deal about decorating for Christmas because it is a little bit of denial that it is actually that time of year again.  

If you go to the major malls here in Lusaka, you can find signs of Christmas.  They have had their Christmas decorations up since October (with no Halloween or Thanksgiving holidays to interfere with the Christmas holidays).  You can hear Christmas music in the grocery store and my kids loved to meander down the "Christmas aisle" which is really only about half an aisle.  Yet when you go to find an actual present to give to someone, they seem about as elusive as Willy Wonka's Golden Ticket.  They are that hard to find.  Many, many thanks again to our team who graciously brought all the kids' Christmas presents in July!

I think that Christmas is more difficult for adult missionaries than it is for our children.  Most of our kids had a limited amount of time (or for some, none at all) in the States before coming to the international mission field.  We adults remember 20-30 years of American Christmases with the huge hype that goes along with them.  Now I have always believed that Christmas is not bought in a store (thank you Dr. Seuss) but my, oh my - when I was in the States, I didn't realize just how those Christmas lights, Christmas parties, Christmas cookies, and yes - even all the commercialism actually helped to get me into the mindset of celebrating all the holiday festivities.  When you don't have the world around you telling you that it is Christmas time, it really is hard to 'make' your own festivities.

So, when you think of your missionaries or maybe even as you are giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering (hint, hint) - please remember to pray that peace and joy will truly surround us all as we celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ this year.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Who Is A Missionary's Friend?

Who is a missionary's friend?  That's a question that I have been pondering lately.  This is coming, of course, from a feminine perspective.  Guys might have a different definition or different needs.  I am also looking at this question from a missionary's perspective but in the end, I think, that most of us want/need very similar things from a friend.

Missionaries need friends, too.  As we are off, living in places outside of the United States - we have left so many relationships behind.  This is a bit unique to missionaries as most people do not move as much as we have in our lives.  Each relationship that I have physically left (or they have left me) has broken a piece of my heart.  It never gets any easier.

How can you be a missionary's friend?  STAY IN CONTACT WITH THEM.  This is huge!  There are so many ways that you can contact your friends - email, Skype/Facetime, text (yes, you can text us over here for not much more money) or you can use apps like 'WhatsApp' that allows you to use your data plan to txt for free and/or a phone call (a short one would not cost as much as you think).  Whether you are an old friend from the States or a new friend that was discovered in a new country, this applies to us all. 

I have been gone from the States for a little bit over five years and I do not have anyone who has kept in consistent contact with me.  Yes, that's right - no one. This does not include our immediate family. 

When we were at orientation before coming to Zambia, we took the Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory.  After you take the test, it gives you four letters that describe your personality.  One of my letters was F for feeler.  As I found out later, I was actually a perfect 30 as a feeler; the most possible. I think that makes friends even more important to me.

We need friends who will ask hard questions to us and expect honest answers.  We need friends who will challenge us to grow spiritually.  We need friends who will listen as we process the hard realities of living in a third world culture.  We need friends to share our lives with us.  We even need mentors - older women who would take a specific spiritual emphasis in our lives.

I know the old adage says, "To have a friend, you must be a friend."  Friendship is a two way street.  We meet each other, coming and going.  It is give and take.  So, I am also shouldering the responsibility to BE a friend.  I want to know about your everyday triumphs and struggles.  I want to be connected to you in some way.  

This is not just a post about me, please don't misunderstand.  The is a post about all women.  We need significant relationships with other women.  Whether you are a homeschooling mom who seems tied to her house or a working mother who seems not to have enough time in the day or a missionary who just wants someone to walk beside her in life, we all need Christ centered relationships to encourage us in the difficult times and rejoice with us in the everyday wonder of life.

So, BE a friend.  Hug your friend if you are blessed enough to actually see them.  Take a few minutes to call them or a little bit more time to sit down and email a faraway friend or even more time to go have coffee with them or out to eat.
Relationships are so important and worth the effort!
Let's do this together!