Friday, December 16, 2011

::Friend Friday::Jolene::

The blogger for today is the sweet and lovely Jolene. I found her blog a while ago; I actually can't remember how, when, or where. But it's been fun reading about her life as a missionary to Ukraine with her husband and kids. I asked her a whole bunch of questions and she so generously answered them all.  

Welcome, Jolene!

December 25th is an ordinary day in Ukraine.  Hard to believe, I know, but it is true.  All of the Christmas holiday traditions Americans are accustomed to are celebrated here in Ukraine…. only at New Year’s.  In America we have a Christmas tree, gifts, Santa Claus, a big holiday meal, etc… on December 25th.  The Ukrainians have a New Year’s tree, gifts, Grandfather Frost, a big holiday meal, fireworks, etc… on December 31st.  Christmas Day for Ukrainians is January 7th.  Why January 7th?   Because they follow the Julius calendar which puts Christmas two weeks later than we Americans celebrate it.  However, Christmas Day here is just a religious holiday and celebrated on a very small scale in comparison to the way we celebrate it in America.  But, I will tell you… we have  nothing to boast about when it comes to celebrating New Year’s.  Ukrainians, hands down, outdo us when it comes to celebrating this day on the calendar!

I miss family.  My hubby comes from a big family of eight children.  To date, there are already 30 grandchildren, and it is the hardest for us to know when everyone is getting together and we are not there.  Those years that we are able to be together are just that much more sweeter, though!

I have a special place in my heart for a gingerbread man pillow I bought a few years ago and get out each Christmas.  It reminds me of a time many years ago when my bus captain (I was a bus kid and my bus captain was just a college student) brought two stuffed gingerbread men to our home as gifts for my sister and I.  The stuffed gingerbread men weren’t even new, but they were the first earthly gifts anyone from our church had ever given us, and he had come to our home specifically for the purpose of giving them to us.  I will never forget how loved I felt that day.

This is a hard one, but I would have to say that last year’s Christmas was the best to date.  We were back in the states for me to give birth to our fourth baby, Micah.  Since everyone else in hubby’s family are also missionaries, we are all sort of “homeless” when we are on American soil.  Many of us happened to be back in the states for various reasons, and we wanted to get together for Christmas.  But the problem was where?  A little country church in Forney, Texas gave us their entire building, set up a large Christmas tree for us, gifts, stockings for all of the kids, and let us just take over.  Classrooms were turned into bedrooms, using blow-up air mattresses and lots of the kids slept on church pews!  What fun for everyone to be together!  {And, I can’t say I’ve ever felt closer to Jesus on Christmas Day by being in church all day!}

 [Christmas, 2010]

When you have children, everything about Christmas is magical!  But some of the extras we enjoy on top of all of the customary traditions are giving the kids new pajamas on Christmas Eve to wear to bed that night.  We also like to have a birthday cake for Jesus in addition to all of the other desserts on Christmas Day!

Many thanks, Rebecca for hosting me on your blog!  Merry Christmas to you and all of your friends from your missionary friend in Ukraine!

With Love from Ukraine,

Jolene has an amazing testimony and many of her extended family are missionaries, as well!!!  Read her blog to get to know her better.



Jolene said...

Thank you so much for hosting me, Rebecca! You were a very sweet hostess, friend!


BTW, you have a BEAUTIFUL blog. Have I ever told you that?!

Phyllis said...

I loved reading this, even if I'm a little late for Christmas. And I'm happy to have found this very pretty blog.