Sunday, December 27, 2015

Christmas in Southeast Asia 2015

While around the world you will see twinkling lights, millions of parties, lines to see Santa clause, Christmas carols and cantatas being sung far and wide in Our corner of Southeast Asia the site is far different. You realize when you move to a nation whose people have barely ever been exposed to Christianity how much our beloved American holidays are inseparably tied to our nations roots in Christianity. Although many Americans choose to celebrate without ever broaching the true meaning of Christmas they have been blessed to be exposed to Christmas due to the thousands of Christians in our countries heritage that honored Christs birth.

So, what does Christmas look like in a staunchly Hindu/Buddhist country that is just budding in its knowledge of the modern world and what does our holiday season look like? That's what I'm going to write about today.

This year since September some time the border between India and Nepal has been mostly closed. You may think so what? America is so diversified from the places it imports from it is hard for us to imagine a place like here. I myself honestly didn't even realize the extreme dependency we had until this situation came up. I would be willing to guess 95% all of our imported products are from India and very little is made domestically. All of our gas, diesel, cooking gas, most all packaged foods, frozen meats, hygiene products, clothing, appliances just about anything you can think of we get from India. So when they became irritated with Nepals new constitution and slammed shut the border a country limping to recovery after a ginormous earthquake skidded to an abrupt stop!

So as the months ticked by December found Nepal still in a dead lock with India. While we are receiving more goods than in the beginning and most people can buy gas through black market channels at 3x-6x the previous rate. You don't see as many bicycles during the holiday season as we did the first couple months but you will pass tons of public transportation packed to the gills and thousands of people cooking over fire due to cooking gas shortages.

In all the hubbub of shortages we found a great local photographer that did our family pics and Marcus' 1 year old pics.

After I recovered from all the Thanksgiving cooking we set in for Christmas festivities. You will not find streets and stores decked out with Christmas decorations or music playing from every speaker. If you didn't put forth an effort, besides the 20-30 Christmas trees you see speckled through our town of 5 million people you could probably forget it was Christmas at all. So after a brief respite after thanksgiving we go full force into creating a festive atmosphere.

This year we were able to make our own felt tree for the kids to decorate (which they played with 1 time!), got together with a friend to make Christmas cookies and even was able to make a Christmas pillow!


We pulled out our artificial tree to throw it up and found it had at some point been broken in the middle. After a few days of innovation we finally found 2 wooden sticks, a large amount of duct tape, some red ribbon to cover it and some cans of corn on the base got her up and standing. No small feat!

Cold weather set in with a fierceness! We have no central heating and cement houses; essentially a meat locker:) Generally everyone uses gas space heaters but due to the shortage it has left everyone with only their electric heaters. Annually the week of thanksgiving begins our electricity cut backs. They gradually increase until the spring until we are up to only 2-3 hours of electricity a day. Also due to the increased amount of electricity usage because of all the shortages they drastically began cutting our electricity after thanksgiving till it was already almost at its highest rate for the season. So on came the layers, fleece and down.

Package began swiftly arriving at our bustling post office from family members and Supporting church friends for Christmas. We are always overjoyed to have friends and family that take the time and money to share Christmas with us so far away. With little diesel for the car we try to limit it to family trips and mostly church. So on his trusty motorcycle Cory plays Santa toting all the packages home with much finesse!

And of course Christmas wouldn't be complete without Mom and Dad making a last minute trip to the store and toting home surprises on the motorcycle.

As Christmas Day drew ever nearer we anxiously planned what is generally our biggest outreach of the year. Nepal may not celebrate Christmas but they are highly curious about this "western holiday" they see on TV. Which is a great open door for Christians here to spread the gospel. Unlike the states, people here don't generally understand celebrating a holiday on a day other than the exact date. So every Christmas Day you will find all the Christians in Nepal present at their church to celebrate with their Christian family and all the friends and family they persuaded to join them. This year I had sketched out pictures for our young people to color for the Christmas decorations.



I had also dreamnt up ideas of all the sweets I would make for our family and for the church activities. About 10 days out I started making cookies for our family. After it took about 3 days to get them all cooked I realized rellying on baked goodies was not the path of wisdom with all the electricity cuts. So I began conniving some easier ideas.

Our festivities started on Tuesday the 22nd. We brought all our sketches and some cider and angel shaped donuts to church for the Christmas party.


We all had a blast coloring and decorating the church, eating goodies and playing some Christmas games.



Wednesday, I began making bags of popcorn and I connived a no bake cookie recipe. Consisting of cracker, topped with peanut butter, melted chocolate, crushed nuts and Christmas sprinkles. No bake goodies, check.

I had the menu planned for our family celebration on Thursday. We are terribly busy once the church programs start so we schedule another time to celebrate at home as a family. The menu was written; roast duck, shrimp scampi, scalloped potatoes, carrots and strawberry pie. But I honestly had no idea if the electricity would come on for me to accomplish it. So with small expectations I waited For the day of. We finished our sweets and rushed off for Wednesday evening services which are at 4 here in the winter due to people not needing to walk in the dark.

We rushed home, ate dinner, put the kids to bed and began wrapping all the presents we had, had hidden in the wardrobes. We carefully placed them around the tree to be seen upon the kids awakening and I fell into bed as Cory stayed up studying for his first big outreach speaking in Nepali.

Thursday morning came and we eagerly anticipated the kids rushing out if their rooms to find packages from here and the states. We opened gifts as a family and then with all the grandparents on Skype. What a wonderful time of excitement and present destruction.


As we hung up the internet call with our parents Cory rushed out the door to speak at a local school near our church. The Lord gave him a wonderful opportunity to speak to 80-100 kids about the true meaning of Christmas. It was a total surprise to have this opportunity and a great blessing. I tidied up the destruction in the house and began wondering what the night would look like with our electricity issues. Hubby came home after about 3 hours away at the school had some lunch and took a brief nap. The clock struck 4pm and the electricity roared to life. I saw my opportunity and I seized it! First I threw together a pie crust and some strawberry pie filling I had waiting and threw it in the oven.

Then I pulled out the best Christmas present ever. #1 husband of the year bought me a Ninja crockpot I had been coveting and had it shipped all the way from the states for little ole me:)

It is terrifically awesome! I threw in some scalloped potatoes and set the timer for 90 minutes.


Next, I began my first ever attempt at roast duck. Eeeeee no clue where to start?? I won't share my recipe because I know I made mistakes but it was tasty. I stuffed it with orange slices and garlic and drenched it in a balsamic vinegar, orange juice, honey and butter sauce.....mmmmmm. Meanwhile we scrapped up some shrimp scampi.


Come 6:15 or so all was set to serve! I could hardly believe it! All was finished right on time. We enjoyed a scrumptious Christmas meal and ended our Christmas celebration with the reading of the Christmas story.

You can see the camo blur in the corner of the couch who didn't have the spirit of silence for the story:)

Thursday morning we woke bright and early to dress and head out for our Christmas service at church.

We had a wonderful crowd and enjoyed a great day of celebrating with our church family. We enjoyed a meal of my cracker cookies, popcorn, Nepali donuts, egg curry (sounds strange but yum!) and sprite:)

It was a blessed day! We had our first ever kids program, first ever Christmas special by our young ladies, first ever Christmas food preparation by our members and first ever Nepali message by Pastor Cory and I got to wear my first ever "' umbrella Kurta" a rendition of their traditional Nepali dress. Wonderful day of firsts! We all went home completely pooped!


We returned the next day for our weekend service with multiple return visitors and a repeat performance by the kiddos. I carried around two exhausted children who had, had a long week "experiencing" Nepali Christmas:) We got home around 1:30pm to embrace in a weekend of complete laziness. We ended the night relaxing as a family, Savannah telling us she was riding her horse to Bethlehem with Joseph to have a baby:) and an empty strawberry pie plate.


So as you can see Chrsitmas in Asia is far from traditional but it is full of excitement, blessings and answers to prayer.



Thanks so much for enjoying the third world journey with me. I always enjoy kind and uplifting comments!