Happy Christmas from UKFJ!
(Our Thanksgiving Day meal with dear friends!)
Happy Christmas from Cornwall, England! While we desperately wish that we could be home with our family during this holiday season, experiencing the festivities and traditions of another country and culture is interesting and fun. I’m making a traditional “Christmas Cake” and we’ll have “Christmas crackers” around the table at our Holiday meal. We are also blessed to have developed such special friendships with so many here, so we do still get to celebrate with ‘family’.
On Thanksgiving Day, we celebrated with a near-traditional meal, inviting along some of our dearest friends here to share it with us. Not to pat myself on the back or anything, but they did all unanimously agree that it was THE BEST thanksgiving meal they’d ever had! (Nevermind that it was their first and only.) ;0)
Of course, as Americans, as soon as Thanksgiving is over, it’s full-speed ahead to Christmas. We were definitely leading the pack when it came to putting up a tree and such. They don’t tend to do that here until about mid-December and find it very odd that we do it so early. (But that didn’t stop us!) We were especially blessed that someone anonymously donated some funds to us so that we could buy a Christmas tree for our home. Thank you to God and to our generous Cornish elves!
(Trevor and B putting the star on our Christmas tree.)
Our town, Camelford, has strung lights all down through the town and had an official lighting ceremony complete with live music, a hog roast and fireworks! Camelford is a very tiny town surrounded by rural farms. However, when it’s time for the town lighting, EVERYONE comes out to enjoy the festivities! It’s quite hard to believe that so many people actually live here! The street (yes, there’s only one main street) was absolutely PACKED! There was a parade of carolers, led by the town band, carrying lanterns down through the town, stopping to lead the crowds in song. It was enchanting… and cold. Yes, very cold. While we generally don’t prefer the ongoing frigidness, it is really nice for it to actually ‘feel’ Christmassy in December. At our home in Texas, that was usually the case only if we went INSIDE somewhere where the air conditioning was on full blast.
(Camelford town lighting festivities!)
It’s interesting that as a whole, society here is much more secular and humanistic in nature than what we are used to from the States; yet, nearly every primary school (if not all) will have a nativity play in honour of the season. It’s mostly done just as tradition, I believe, but it’s the truth nonetheless! Brooklyn’s nativity play was this week — she was a “star” and boy did she shine! We often talk about how “sparkly” she is… from the inside out because of Jesus living inside of her. So, being a shimmering, sparkling star was definitely the right part for our little B. Tomorrow is her final day of school before the break for the Christmas holidays. We’ve been blessed to have the funds to get her a few special gifts this year, so excitement and anticipation is in the air as she eagerly awaits Christmas morning. It’s so cool how having children can make us so much less selfish. It’s also so beautiful how being a parent can open your eyes to a new understanding of God and how he sees and loves us, His children.
(B as a “star”; cropped to exclude all other children/scenery from the photo)
For Christmas at Souls Harbour, we had a “homecoming” night… basically an informal concert night for our church family to share their talents and a bit of fun with one another. There was music, poetry, story telling and even puppets! It was great fun and a truly memorable celebration of the season. On Sunday, we’ll have a carol service and then a special service on Christmas Day in honour of our King’s birth.
Due to the nature of full-time ministry, many of the activities and events that require our presence are in the evenings and on the weekends. As such, it can be tricky to have quality family time during the hours that Brooklyn is out of school (and awake). So, for the next two weeks we are excited to be scaling back to the bare minimum so that we can maximize the time we have to spend with our little star during her school holidays. In the grand scheme of life, our time with our kids is so very brief. Especially in light of recent events, I hope we’ll all embrace any and every moment we have to love on, play with and simply be with our children, one of the most precious gifts God could possibly give us.
From month-to-month, things are still quite tight for us financially, but we are at peace watching God bring in what is needed, as we need it. Living by faith can be very challenging, and at times it can be very tempting to go into a panic. Of course, that applies to people of all situations, not just those in ministry. Whoever you are and whatever you do, if you have put your faith in Jesus Christ for the salvation of your soul, don’t stop there. Trust Him with everything because above all, He is faithful. There will be moments of worry and even doubt, but the truth doesn’t change no matter how our circumstances might. If we are walking in relationship with God, living in surrender to Him, reading His Word and asking Him for guidance then doing what He says to do… well, the next step is just to keep trusting and “keep moving forward”, because “He’ll take care of the rest!” (Fancy that… a bit of Walt Disney and Keith Green in the same sentence!)
Thank you all for your continued prayer and support of our family and UK for Jesus. We are praying for God to provide so that we can make a trip home around Easter. At that time, we’ll once again organize a simple gathering for anyone who is able to come hear about what God has been doing and so that we can see your faces, hug your necks and look you in the eye to say ‘thank you’.
We pray that you will each have a wonderfully blessed Christmas and a fantastic New Year, full of joy, hope and anticipation for great things to come!
Blessings and more to come soon,
- Connie, Trevor & Brooklyn Smith (UK for Jesus)