it hurts my insides to not be there…
most of you know i am pursuing a longterm mission to South Africa… well… i want you to read today’s entry from my friend Brooke’s blog. she is an American missionary working as the preschool teacher at the Oceans of Mercy Children’s Village in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. it just sums up what it is freakin’ all about.
Today during PreSchool, I had one of the sweetest moments I’m sure to treasure for a long time.
I am teaching my small ones the story of the Birth of Christ. The angel coming to Mary, traveling to Bethlehem, the shepherds, the wisemen, the camels, the whole bit. They know nothing of the Baby Jesus story. I started teaching Christmas this week with “Away in a Manger”… explaining what a crib is (where Baby Ishipo & Sipo & Roro & Tando sleep), what a manger and stables are and how hay is meant for feeding donkeys, not for sleeping… They are captivated. Pregnant moms and tiny crying babies are all parts of their daily lives, as well as donkeys (we have two in the backyard), so they highly relate to this story.
Earlier this week, at a Christmas store, I found a small ceramic Nativity set, complete with a wooden, moss-covered stable, and holes in the back for about 8 white Christmas lights. We are setting out one piece of the set at a time, in anticipation of Christmas Day. The first piece was just the stable. A few days ago, the donkey. Yesterday, the cow. But, today, today was a day I won’t forget.
At the end of every day, I read to the children. I always turn off the overhead light and close the curtains, to create some calm and peace for them. But today, as I darkened the room, I had them circle around our little Nativity scene which sets on a small table. I started telling them the story, focusing this time on the star shining over the stable, how the shepherds and wisemen followed its brightness to Baby Jesus. As I’m telling the story, I’m pushing the small bulbs through the holes in the back of the stable. When I finish, I set it on the table, and plug it in. The moment the stable lit up, all the children went silent and stared, little eyes quite wide. It was all quiet, until PhaPhama started singing “Away in a Manger”. The others joined. Aphelele and Phila came and sat on my lap and the other three crouched on their knees, hands folded on the table, heads resting on their hands, singing and soaking in the sweetness of the Birth of our Lord in a dingy moss-covered stable, lit up by 8 white Christmas lights…