The Sunday before Christmas, Father Stewart announced from the pulpit that we had real live missionaries at Christmas Village. He said it like they were exotic animals. (Incidentally, there were also exotic animals at Christmas Village.)
Even though I've been going to Church of the Resurrection for about six years now, I still didn't know much about our missionaries. I knew all about our Bringing Road, with its luncheons and festivals, but Christmas Village introduced me to some of the lovely people who have gone out by our Sending Road.
The Village was organized by country. Each country had its own booth, so you could travel the world by walking around the room. It was like a little Epcot, minus the long lines, plus free cookies to eat and puppies to play with. (Did you see the puppies?! They were behind Europe.)
Each booth had a representative – in the case of India (the DeZwaans) and the Central African Republic (the Festens), actual missionaries! – who were eager to talk about the good work being done in their particular country. Baskets of gift tags representing the missionaries' wish lists: bundles of wood for widows in Afghanistan, literacy classes for women escaping human trafficking in Bangledesh, medical supplies for our sister church in Jos, Nigeria, and so much more.
My husband and I bought a gift tag for a motorcycle helmet and gave it as a Christmas present to my father-in-law, who rides a motorcycle himself and scoffs at foolish, helmet-less bikers. We told him this particular helmet would protect a Bible translator in the Central African Republic. He liked it much more than if we'd gotten him a gift card he didn't need or a sweater he would only wear once.
In all, our Christmas Village shoppers bought a generous $9,411.00 in gifts. Our real live missionaries thank you!
Story by Alyssa Barringer
Photos by Josh Cutherell and Thomas Lebryk