- What’s an item that you carried from North America to your adopted homeland because, without it, it wouldn’t seem like Christmas?
A friend of our family has made intricately cross-stitched stockings for all 6 of us (including our preemie son who passed away a few weeks after his birth!). Those are probably the most important Christmas decorations for us and a reminder of how much we are loved back home!
- What’s a tradition you carried with you to your adopted home to keep Christmas alive in your heart and instill it into your family?
I bake Christmas cookies with my kids like my mom did with me. We play Christmas music all month. We try to do some form of an advent calendar, ideally being made by our family, or family devotions that center around preparing for and celebrating Christ’s birth. And, I make cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning, just like when I was little!
- What does Christmas look like through the lens of the people [general population] where you serve? Do they understand Christmas intellectually? theologically?
Our context is mainly Catholic, so the holiday is generally about Jesus but also includes many superstitions. Most families have a figurine of Jesus in the manger, which is actually prayed to. At Christmas, it is important to take your figurine of baby Jesus to the priest to have it blessed or your family might not be blessed.
- Do the people you work with have misconceptions about what Christians believe and why we celebrate Christmas?
Most Catholics probably don’t have a clear understanding of how our celebration, as evangelicals, is different from theirs. A lot of evangelicals in Bolivia have a problem with Christmas trees or even a nativity scene in the home because of how the Catholics have turned some of those things into idols. Generally, evangelical churches downplay the holiday so as not to be confused with Catholics.
- [Tell us a story about] How do you invite your friends to celebrate your holidays with you?
Traditionally, our family meets Christmas afternoon with our former SIM team to share dinner and games. With the Bolivian women in church, we’ve started a Christmas craft afternoon and sometimes a cookie exchange.
- [Tell us a story about] How do your local friends invite you to celebrate their holidays with them? Do you have any concerns that your participation being interpreted as condoning? (especially in cases where it’s a religious holiday)
For Christmas, we have been invited to the traditional Christmas Eve dinner, which is usually a specific soup served around midnight. That one can be rough for little kids! There is another big holiday here when almost everyone (who is not a Christian) decorates their homes, property, and cars and holds a special ceremony to the Pachamama, asking for her blessing and protection on their prized possessions. We abstain from celebrating this one personally, but have once been able to offer a prayer to God, through Christ, asking for His blessing on the new home of a neighbor.