Dad and Mom had worked in Burkina Faso as missionaries since 1956 but as they neared retirement, I learned that Mom had one special request. She wished all four of their children could share their last Christmas in Africa. My brother and his family were also missionaries in Africa, so they could easily get there. Becky, my older sister, worked for an airline – she’d get employee rates, so she’d be sue to come. Judi, the youngest sibling, had a good job and money in the bank; I was sure she wouldn’t miss it. But since were a home-schooling family, living on a single income with two children, I certainly doubted we could come up with the $5000 it would take to share their last Christmas together.

In January we started praying – and I started making dolls to sell at a craft fair. I knew I wouldn’t be able to sell $5000 worth but it was a start. Then in May I learned of a café opening up that was looking for home-baked goods. I took in my best samples – sticky buns, fresh coconut cake – and got the job. For the rest of the summer and fall I got up at 4:45 AM three days a week to bake fresh muffins and mix summer salads for the café. On the side I worked on the crafts and had two craft shows. Our prayers were answered and in December we had enough money to buy our airline tickets and we were on our way!

What a Christmas! Warm weather, dusty trips to the home where we grew up, swimming in the river where we’d camped as kids. We shared together around the table – not just mangos and papaya and the Butterball turkey we’d brought from the States, but laughter and memories of days gone by. Many dear missionary aunts and uncles, as well as African friends, came to greet us. We worshipped again in the national church, which no longer met in a cornstalk shelter but had grown to several hundred members, clapping and singing in their contagious style.

So Mom’s dream was fulfilled as we shared their last Christmas together in Africa. Since their retirement, however, they’ve gone back twice for short-term missionary work. So I guess that wasn’t their last Christmas in Africa after all and we might just have to go again! Does anyone know a café I can bake for?

Debbie’s favorite Christmas carol is “What Child Is This?” and her favorite Christmas cookie? “Butterballs. In fact, I published a cookbook to help raise funds for our out-going expenses and said this was my all-time favorite. If I ate as many as I wanted, I’d look like the name of them!” Debbie can be reached at [email protected]


©1999 Thrive

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