What do you want when you are living in a foreign country away from extended family and the comforts of home? Well, you miss American things.
Around the corner from our home was the Carolina Market. There you could get just about anything that you wanted, especially if you asked ahead. One time, I went in there searching for Dr Pepper and there was one lone can sitting in the corner of a vendor's booth. He wanted over 5,000 Sucres for it! (This was before the American Dollar became the currency of Ecuador) So that was well over $5. Did I miss America and Dr Pepper that much? Was I willing to spend that much money for it? Nope...
There was a short-term volunteer missionary team that was coming to Ecuador from the United States that was going to be in Ecuador for about a week. They had heard about us and contacted us ahead of time, wanting to know if there was anything that they could bring us for Christmas. So, what do you think we asked for? Yep, you guessed it. Dr Pepper.
Also, we wanted Peanut Butter Cap'n Crunch, the boys favorite cereal. They hadn't had this cereal for well over six months and occasionally would ask about it. We tried to to find it at the Carolina Market to no avail. We also searched other Ecuadorian grocery stores but did not find anything that resembled their favorite cereal.
So, we decided to make the trek to the city that the team was going to. It was a good 5-hour (one-way) bus ride to get there. It was a beautiful ride, thru the Andes mountains. There were chickens and goats on the bus with us as well. Our destination city was also the only city in Ecuador to have a Burger King. So, we were looking forward to having a Whopper as part of our trip. As we got off the bus and made our way to Burger King, we were sorely disappointed. The "whopper machine" was broken. I didn't know there was such a thing as a "whopper machine" So, we ended up not having it our way but rather got chicken sandwiches. They were good but they weren't Whoppers.
The meeting with this team was special. These were people we didn't know. Nor did the know us. Yet, they traveled from afar to bring us gifts. We talked about Ecuador, they told us where they were from and there were some connections made. These gifts that they brought us felt as valuable as gold. We were extremely grateful. They brought other gifts but the DP and the Cap'n Crunch stand out as the most memorable. You just couldn't get those in Ecuador.
You can imagine our excitement! The four of us packed up our gifts and placed them in a suitcase to take back on the bus. We talked about it all the way home (another 5 hours) and were very tempted to open some before we got home. Nevertheless, we were able to wait. Now Christmas was still a couple of weeks away. But wanting to be good parents, we opened one box and one can and had that for our supper when we got home. The rest were packed away for Christmas.
Christmas was special that year. The boys knew that they were going to get Cap'n Crunch and I knew that I was going to get Dr Pepper. We talked about it every day leading up to Christmas with Karyn teasing us that Santa may not make it to Quito. But we knew better.
The excitement mounted so that even though we knew what we were getting for Christmas, it was still a wonderful event: Having hot chocolate, opening presents, eating Cap'n Crunch and drinking Dr Pepper.
It's a Christmas I will never forget.
So, this Christmas, you know what Jesus is going to get. Gold, frankincense and myrrh. Have you waited with excited anticipation as Jesus opened these gifts? Did you see the joy in His eyes as He enjoyed what was given to Him?
Do you approach this Christmas with excited anticipation?
You know what you're going to get.
The greatest gift of all time is given today.
Are you going to open it and enjoy it?
Jesus offers Himself.
He wants to see you enjoy Him. He wants you to enjoy Him as a little baby. He wants you to enjoy Him as a young teen in the Temple. He wants you to enjoy Him at the Wedding in Cana. He wants you to enjoy fishing with Him, learning from Him, becoming more like Him.
He also wants you to follow Him.... All the way to the cross.
If you haven't accepted the Savior of the World into your life, this is a great time to do it.
Make it a Christmas you will never forget.
BE A MAN.