For many the Christmas holiday season looks like gathering together with family, baking Christmas treats, sipping on peppermint flavoured hot drinks, visiting the local tree farm to pick out the perfect Christmas tree, building snowmen if you’re lucky enough to have a ‘white Christmas’ and curling up by the fireplace with a cup of hot cocoa watching cheesy Hallmark movies. Everyone has their own Christmas family traditions. Everyone has their own way of celebrating Christmas and getting into the ‘Christmas spirit.’
I didn’t realise until I was on the other side of the world from my family just how important and meaningful those Christmas traditions are to me.
My Discipleship Training School (DTS) began in July of 2015 and it finished up in early December. Before I left on my outreach however, I committed to staying on campus to volunteer in our Community Life department for a few months after my DTS. I didn’t know at that point that I would be coming back on staff with YWAM Newcastle, but I knew that I wasn’t meant to go home right away. As the time came to say goodbye to my fellow students on DTS the reality hit that I was staying and not going home to be with my family for Christmas. I had spent the first 21 years of my life celebrating Christmas the same way with my family. When my ‘normal’ was stripped away I realised how dependent I was on the consistency and stability that Christmas traditions bring. It was quite hard to adapt to new traditions and develop a new normal. I knew that YWAM Newcastle had their own Christmas traditions. I knew that it would be different and challenging spending Christmas in a warm climate with a whole new set of traditions with over 100 people whom I was still getting to know.
But the comforting thing and the thing that is pulling me through as I approach my second Christmas away from my family is that
I’m not alone in this. I’m not alone in what I’m feeling.
I’m not alone in the moments where I still myself amidst all the noise and joys of Christmastime and allow my heart to ache for my family. I’m surrounded by a whole community of missionaries who are away from their families during the holidays. God has been teaching me that first and foremost my home is in Him and secondly, YWAM Newcastle is my home for this season of my life. Not only is YWAM Newcastle my home, this community of people are my family—my home away from home. I may not be able to curl up by a fireplace, play in the snow or bake Christmas cookies with my mom, but I do get to look forward to cricket in the park, water fights, family beach outings, lots of laughs at our annual talent show and many more ‘family moments’ in the land down under.
by Lia Dalpini
April Discipleship Traingin School Staff