The 6th Day of Christmas Part 2/3

One of the first questions asked of me at internship orientation was, “How do you feel about not being home for Christmas?” The thought scared me and shot a small pang in my heart.

Today is the 6th day of Christmas, and until this year, my immediate family and our Christmas traditions are all I’ve known during these 12 days of celebration. I’d be lying if I said there weren’t moments I wish I were in St. Louis or that I haven’t felt a sense of disappointment and sadness as I see photos from home and friends reunited with their own families on Facebook. In three weeks though, I’ll be heading home via Chicago, and my parents have promised they’ll keep the decorations up until I get there.

In my family, Christmas is the one time a year everyone comes together, and my heart overflows with love and joy. This year, my heart has been filled in a different way.

Surprise packages have shown up in mailbox reminding me of love that stretches across the miles. Kind texts, Facebook messages, and emails have provided daily encouragement. I’ve been surrounded by a beautiful ohana here and able to experience Christmas in a whole new way.

I watched beautiful hula dancing as the sanctuary filled with candlelight and the sounds of “Silent Night.” I cheered with children about the most fantastic birthday of all time. I rang handbells and sang about a special king born in a manger throne. I was adopted and enjoyed normal traditions like Christmas dinner and opening presents just wearing shorts instead of a warm sweater. I sat on a beach admiring the sunset as I wrote “Mele Kalikimaka” in the sand considering all that Christmas means.

Whether in St. Louis or in Aiea, the Reason why we celebrate is the same. That little baby, Savior of the world, fills our hearts with hope, peace, love, and joy for all time. He is all we need.

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Christmas Sunset

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Busily Beautiful Part 1/3

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Since Thanksgiving, life has been kind of a whirlwind, and I’m finally taking the time to stop and reflect on it all. The week after Thanksgiving I wasn’t quite sure how it would all work out and how I would make it to this point. As with any month there have been highs and lows, but overall the past weeks have been busily beautiful.

I’ve feasted on pancakes with the children of Our Savior before they presented their Advent program as sheep, shepherds, cows, angels, innkeepers, Joseph, and Mary.

I’ve washed car after car with awesome youth by my side thankful that car washes can be a yearlong Youth Gathering fundraiser in Hawaii.

I’ve survived a bird flying into my car as I drove down the highway after a day of island touring.

I’ve sung Christmas carols atop a double decker bus admiring twinkling lights and the “Shaka Santa” with my Our Savior ohana.

I’ve eaten delicious Japanese food and circled around the Aloha Stadium searching for treasures at the Swap Meet with newfound friends.

I’ve hosted youth Christmas parties with goofy games, plenty of cookies, and the AC turned on instead of the heat like at Christmas parties on the mainland.

I’ve had my sister by my side walking on beaches, baking Christmas cookies, sitting in traffic, exploring, flying along a zipline, laughing, and loving every moment of sharing Hawaii life together.

Each snapshot of these busily beautiful moments makes me realize how important it is to stop and take it all in. Too easily, each can go by in blur with their significance forgotten and potential for learning disregarded. The stopping makes it all the more beautiful though, and I pray “teach us to number our days, so that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”