That’s a line from one of my favorite Christmas carols. In  a country with one of the highest rates of HIV, we have found this thought to often be the bedrock of our service .  Another carol of less religious content says, “I’ll be home for Christmas if only in my dreams”. Those lines have taken on new meaning this year. Christmas – we would all agree, is the most difficult time to be away from family and friends. For us it’s the first time in 32 years  we’ve not spent Christmas with our children.  This is an amazing journey Jeff and I are on. Mostly one of self discovery with a deepening awareness of our dependence on God. But it’s natural to ask at this time of year, “What is so compelling about this work and why, oh why, are we so far from home?” I’d guess some form of this question has been asked thousands of times by travelers and those living, working, studying, and serving abroad. So what is our answer?  For most of us the answer probably lies, not in the big things (if there are any) but rather in the small. The little things that come so unexpected and unannounced they could be easily overlooked or played down. The hand of a stranger that reached out to console me after a nasty injury involving my arm and a combi seat, the chance to give some Christmas music to someone who never owned any carols. Handing out lollipops and apple slices at the clinic on Universal Children’s Day,  after a local Pastor called the children to the front and used a small boy to illustrate the story of the 5 loaves and the 2 fish that fed 5000. Maybe it’s my walks where I almost daily discover a roadside “weed” that I have paid a pretty price for at the nursery in Syracuse or discovering yet another bush or tree in my yard that will produce fruit. Some weeks provide chances to encourage the A.R.V. nurse at my clinic to keep on in his faith walk. For despite an overwhelming work load and an uphill battle against new infections his love for Christ is shining, and if he leaves, that light at Xhosa Clinic goes out. And in that same vein I am also held here by the belief not in my own light, but Christ’s power to be a light in me.The possibility of E.T. (early termination) comes in our mind at least once a week; more so these past few weeks. But then our minds review all these scattered and insignificant experiences and we go to God for the strength to persevere. Knowing, beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are part of something a lot smaller then I think we originally imagined and yet that we are immersed in something much bigger than we can explain gives us the vitality to keep at what we made a commitment to do. And in a strange twist of things, we live in a country where perseverance may be the exact thing God desires us to model for His glory. It all sounds a bit melodramatic no doubt and yet at the same time it isn’t. Just the other day I spoke with someone giving very serious thought to ET. “The list of things to go home to seems far more compelling than the list of things to stay for”. I agree completely! I just believe it to be the wrong approach to the situation.The wrong question to ask, so to speak. That statement, if given careful consideration, was probably more true before we all even left home. To stay, and stay engaged, that notion must become irrelevant. And so it is December 26th and I am still here, still praising God and still trusting God for the seen as well as the unseen. Still trusting Him that December 26th, 2013 I will still be here. Dallas Willard says that to be children of light – to go back to the light analogy – means “ordinary human beings, in their ordinary positions in life, appointed and empowered by God to be light in their particular place – the light of the world”. This year that ordinary place for us is Botswana. Our fluctuating feelings don’t alter that. But my guess is the “Africa” part sounds a lot more exciting and adventurous  than it actually is. But it is certainly an adventure in trusting God and knowing experientially His abiding presence. So in this season of lights and within this blog post connected with  the theme of light may we all shine where God has placed us. This year however instead of adding the standard Happy New Year I am going to be very bold. I’m going to suggest an adventurous New Year, one outside your comfort and perhaps even outside your country! Is God calling you? Maybe a different approach to that notion (that we rely heavily on in Christian circles of the last century) would be: are you certain He is not calling you? If you beg Him I doubt He will refuse.