Claire Peterson is an amazing teenage girl who is living with her family in Swaziland as they minister to orphans, widows, and whoever else God brings into their lives. As the holiday season progresses, and all that entails, Claire reflects on spending Christmas far from Stateside loved ones and what answering His call means for her.
THERE'S SO MUCH TO BE THANKFUL FOR
I love Christmas. I absolutely LOVE it. I always have. The music and the decorations and the snow. All of it just makes me happy.
I’ve been trying my hardest to conform my Christmas this year to something exactly like what we would do in the States. I’ve been listening to Christmas music nonstop.(I’m actually listening to Josh Groban belt out ‘Silent Night’ right now =] ) I’m decorating my room with lights and ornaments. I’ve been convincing myself it should be freezing at night and wrapping up in my blankets, no matter how hot it really is. But no matter how much I do, I’m still not home. I’m not with the friends and family I love, watching the snow fall outside, curling up next to Grandma and Grandpa’s woodstove.
I guess maybe I have to stop trying to make this Christmas like an American one and just accept that it’s not and be ok with that, enjoying the excitement of spending Christmas in Africa. And I was doing really good with that for awhile. I was so excited to swim on Christmas and have a braii (South African BBQ ). Things we in Michigan never would do on Christmas. But today it sort of came flooding out. I was looking at my pictures from last Christmas and thinking about how wonderful it would be to go out and be in the snow.
Maybe all this time I thought I was fine, that I would be ok just having a wonderful Christmas with my wonderful family in a completely different (yet wonderful =]) place, maybe all this time I was just pushing down what I was really feeling. And, don’t get me wrong, I love this place, I love it more than anything. More than anything in the world. It’s amazing, and so hard emotionally, because lately God has been really speaking to me about a possible longer-term call for me here. Like, maybe after college or whatever he wants me to move here and start a family and live my life here. He was actually putting South Africa on my heart.
And it’s crazy, because I’ve been having this amazing peace about that, about living here. Like, it’s just been getting stronger and stronger and now it almost feels like a call, rather than just a feeling. I think more about South Africa because I don’t know how well I would do on my own. Swaziland is so isolated and there really isn’t anyone down here. I think if I did end up coming here, it would have to be if more people were living down here as well by then.
It seems far into the future that I’m thinking, about living here and starting my life here, but really, in less than five years I’m going to be an adult, starting college and seriously considering what I want to do with my life. And this seems pretty likely.
It doesn’t make sense, but it sort of scares me that I’m at peace with the idea of living here. Like I said, doesn’t make sense. Maybe I’m more scared of the call I think maybe God has put on my heart, I’m not really sure.
So what I’m getting to is that I’ve been feeling that call a lot lately, or what I think is a call, and feeling almost no opposition to the idea in my spirit. But when I look at pictures from home, and think about how extremely excited about going home I am after only being here nearly a year, I wonder if I could really do it.
This blog doesn’t necessarily have a happy ending, a resolution I’ve found in my spirit, because I haven’t found any resolution yet. I was feeling homesick and needed to get it out on paper, or in writing…whatever[=.
Thankfully, I have many things to look forward to right now that I know will get my mind off of feeling homesick, and I’m praying about it. Please pray for me too… I love all of you who are reading this….I miss you. I wish I could be there spending Christmas with you, but for now, I’ll enjoy my top-of-an-aloe-plant Christmas tree, and swimming on Christmas day, and camping for the holidays in summer weather..etc. I really am blessed, it’s just hard to see that when all you can think about are the faces of family you won’t get to see during Christmas, and the flakes of snow falling to the ground, and the fire. It’s a melancholy sort of feeling.
And it must be God, in his gentle, daddy way, that made me to be listening to ‘There’s So Much To Be Thankful For’ right at this moment. There is, there really is. I guess all it took was a blog, some Josh Groban, and some love from our good, good God, because I already feel a lot better.
Merry Christmas everyone.
There’s so much to be thankful for.
To read more about Claire's life as a teenage missionary in Swaziland, go to her blog: http://adventuresinnsoko.blogspot.com/