We didn’t expect to have any white Christmases now that we have moved to the southern hemisphere where summer is winter and winter is summer. In addition, we are only about 60 miles south of the equator and the seasonal changes are mild at best. The temperature change we experience as evening falls related to our 7,000 foot elevation are not too different from the temperature variations we might see between summer and winter days. No matter how cool it may get in our winter here, there is, however, never any snow. And even if there were snow, it would certainly only fall in June, July, and August. This all means that Christmastime here in Kenya is warm and sunny (not unlike most Christmases in my hometown in south Texas, actually). Many of us fail to appreciate that the traditional “white Christmas” is primarily a North American and European phenomenon. I never gave a thought, growing up, that Australian children had their Christmas in summer. I’m sure I would have found that to be very unfortunate for the Australian children.
One particularly attractive aspect of living in Kenya has been our proximity to Eva’s family in the Czech Republic. Even though we are separated from them by the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean Sea, we are only two time zones apart. That makes it much more convenient to call or Skype. We also hoped it would mean a shorter plane flight to visit family in Europe. With this in mind, we made plans to make a much anticipated and long overdue trip to the Czech Republic during our December break from school. As I began searching for flights, I settled on an itinerary that would take us from Nairobi, Kenya to the Czech capital of Prague via Dubai. This was going to be a detour to say the least, and one that necessitated an overnight layover. I went ahead and booked the flights and hotel for our layover. It turns out we’re not saving too much flight time by living in Kenya, but at least we won’t have severe jet lag once we arrive.
We’re excited about this trip to the Czech Republic for several reasons. First, we haven’t been back to visit family in two and a half years. Eva’s sister and her family have never met our youngest child, Joseph. We have three nephews there, and our boys have spent very little time with them. Second, we will most certainly have a very white, Old World Christmas.
We also look forward to reconnecting with our church in the Czech Republic, Jednota Bratrska, known in English as the Moravian Church. Although they meet in rented facilities throughout the Czech Lands, the Moravian Church has a long and proud history. They trace their origins all the way back to Jan Hus, a Reformer and a Czech national hero. He’s even revered by the non-Christian majority as a brave leader who stood up to an oppressive government. I have been fascinated by the Moravian Church for some time, and not only because Eva is from the Czech Republic.
Also interesting is that Eva’s hometown of Liberec in the Czech Republic is only a few miles from the small but historically important German town of Herrnhut. It is here that persecuted Moravian Christians found refuge. It became the center of revival and a sending base for worldwide missions beginning in the 18th century. It is also known for being at the center of a century-long prayer vigil. If you’re interested in learning more about the greatest story you’ve never heard, click here.
Incidentally, Herrnhut also happens to be the town where my brother, Erik, spent a year as an exchange student between high school and college. Who would have guessed that ten years later, I would meet my wife who comes from a city just miles from there–yet on the other side of the globe from Texas!
It has been reported that the Czech Republic is the most atheistic nation in Europe. As such, this nation needs the light that shines from the small but historic church that exists there. We have already been encouraged by the Moravian Church’s vibrant worship and desire to reach out with the gospel message. They have crossed lines of race and prejudice to minister and start churches among the Roma (Gypsy) population in their country. We hope to return this winter with our own message of encouragement and how God is working in Africa through our own ministry and that of the many missionary families our presence here supports.
Please continue to pray for us as we travel and visit with family, friends, and our church in Europe this holiday season. We desire to be ministers of blessing there as well.