Spending Christmas here was hard...probably the hardest time thus far. Sentiments like homesickness, missing friends, and missing Christian community were inevitably multiplied and sorely took their toll. I caught myself missing even the corniest and most commercialized parts of Christmas in America. Yet in spite of everything, I still couldn't help reflecting on what brings me to my knees every Christmas. Something that is, in my opinion, the most moving truth of our Christian faith...Something that has renewed my faith countless times. The simple truth that God chose to enter and save this world by lowering himself to live and die like a man never, ever loses its beauty or its power. And, how telling it is that this story begins by God in human flesh being born quietly, in a dirty manger, in a small, unimportant town.
From the beginning, one of the most attractive draws to Peace Corps service was the chance to live in the same way, and on the same level, of the people we are serving. Like the Derek Webb song says, "like the three-in-one, know you must become what you want to save." What a beautiful Christ-like notion it is, even working for a secular organization, to adopt the language, culture, and lifestyle of those we are serving and living with.
But now that we've been here a while, this "beautiful notion" has started to rear its realistic, not so beautiful head. To summarize a thousand stories, some short and some long, the challenge of cross culture work has started to take its toll on us. Even for me, an extrovert who gets recharged by being with people, there have been days of exasperation where it has been difficult even to leave our house. Amid the great days, there have been days of extreme loneliness, of feeling unappreciated and unwanted.
But on the worst of days, I am reminded that the one I am following and striving to imitate, faced challenges that were much, much worse. I am reminded that "his grace is sufficient for me and his power is made perfect in my weakness". I am reminded that this type of life is not supposed to be easy, but on the same hand, we stand to benefit in unimaginable ways from the challenges we will surely continue to face.