December 20, 2010

Another Christmas in Tarakan

A few friends have asked me this past week, "Ibu mau pulang kampung untuk Natal?" Are you going home for Christmas?

Nope, it's another Christmas in Borneo for the Holstens.  And strangely, this year, I am perfectly okay with that.

I miss my family, of course, and the wonderful Christmas ambiance that permeates every shopping mall in America.  Some days I wish I weren't sweating away like it's the Fourth of July, and I would really, really love to be part of a flash mob and belt out the alto line of "Hallelujah Chorus" with gusto.

But I have come to appreciate our Christmases in the tropics.  In some ways, holidays overseas have become more meaningful because of the effort I have to put into them to make them happen.  And there are some traditions unique to our location that I enjoy - like driving all over Tarakan on Christmas Day and visiting our Indonesian friends.  And getting together with our MAF friends Christmas evening, eating yummy desserts, and trying to get the group to indulge me in singing "The Twelve Days of Christmas."

This has been by far our most "Christmasey" Christmas in Tarakan yet.  A few weeks ago we went to a tree-lighting ceremony at one of the local hotels.  A choir sang, punch was served, and I basked in the glow of Christmas tree lights (so what if it wasn't a Frasier fir?).

Zoe participated in the children's program at church, where her class sang "O Christmas Tree" and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" in Indonesian.

Our church also hosted a Christmas Carnival, which included a nasi goreng (fried rice) cooking contest, volleyball tournament, a coloring contest (Grace won first place in her division), and a visit from a clown and Sinterklas.  Not exactly what we might expect from a Christmas carnival, but it was fun nonetheless.  And I got to chow down on one of my favorite foods, daun singkong (cassava leaves).

Yep, Santa wears shades in the tropics

Last week we had our last English Club for the year, and we played a game where kids had to create a snowman out of toilet paper, which then turned into a crazy free-for-all "snowball fight" with the toilet paper. 

Grace as an Indonesian snowman, with friends from English Club

So this week on our agenda is Christmas baking, getting ready for our open house on Thursday (I'll be serving chicken fajitas for our Indonesian friends to try), and hopefully finding some quiet moments to sit and contemplate the Word becoming flesh.

Merry Christmas from the Holstens!


Anne said...

Oh Natalie! The Word is becoming flesh through you!

David said...

From: The Mikel Family
To: All the Holstens

We love you all and miss you very much. God Bless and thank you for being such wonderful givers.

Have a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

David, Amanda, Aidan, Makayla, and soon to be Dylan Thomas Mikel