By Mary Lyon Hellman
Just after celebrating my eighth birthday in December, 1963 I and my three sisters found it was Christmas time in Bandung, Indonesia. Wait a minute. THIS is not Christmas!! It was boiling hot and humid. We were clothed in ordinary shirts and shorts. No snow, no Christmas lights all around town or on our neighbors houses for that matter and not one Santa Claus in sight.
I remember our school having a Christmas program for all the missionary parents of the kids that attended which consisted of about 10 to 15 kids in grades 1-8. As we stood up front my eight year old voice projected just a tiny squeak. You see, I was thinking of the parents! Spending Christmas in a foreign land away from their parents or siblings, the old farm in Iowa or in South Dakota where snow and the sights and sounds of the season were in no shortage. Here we stood belting out Christmas songs in the heat of the humid evening as our parents looked on with admiration. My voice cracked because I was near tears for them! They must have been proud of us kids trying our best to make them feel at home.
The highlight of that Christmas was receiving boxes from our Grandparents from back home. How delighted we were at receiving brand new coloring books and crayons, and books like Black Beauty to read. How thoughtful of them to think of us so far away. The excitement of getting boxes of Jello and cake mixes was amazing. They were put aside for very special occasions.
My family made it thru that first year and continued through another year in Indonesia, two years in Japan where we had a white Christmas and six years in Singapore where we swam in the local pool every Christmas day. Our tree there was made out of white plastic with just a tiny tint of blue. We thought that was really cool.
These are my memories of Christmas’s in the mission field. I will remember these all the rest of my life.