Christmas blessings

Christmas Eve begins leisurely.
I get to sleep in for as long as I wish, and it’s wonderful.
I wake up slowly, roll over to grab my Bible, and sit up atop my bunk bed,
enjoying the chance to read the Word and soak in some quiet.
I eventually wander out to the kitchen in search for a 3-in-1 packet and some hot water to make my “coffee.”
(It’s either this or instant coffee that’s available in Asia, there’s no brewed coffee to be found anywhere!)
In the kitchen I find my teammates Jessica and Amber preparing some food for our Christmas Day party, which will be held at our host Peter’s house.
He’s kindly invited us and the other teams over for a Christmas Day celebration,
and he really wants to make this holiday away from home a special one for all of us.

I continue my relaxing morning with some Christmas music, and when it’s time, we head over to join the others in cooking the food.
We sit down together and exchange White Elephant gifts, picked specially from our packs.
Socks, chocolate, VIA coffee packets, batteries, and even a couple hats and an iPod Touch end up in the pile.
It reminds me of my family’s White Elephant gift exchange every year, and I love it.

My team heads home to get all dressed up for Christmas Eve dinner.
We’ve made reservations, and Annie’s parents even provide money to treat us to a nice Christmas dinner.
(Thank you, it was wonderful!!)

We laugh, because no matter how “dolled up” we get, with new clothes from the free pile, we always end up putting on our dirty, dusty, well-worn flip flops and sandals.
Oh well, it’s The World Race. We know we’re a little quirky by now! 😛
Amanda does my makeup, and I even put on LIPSTICK.

We catch the bus to the restaurant, which we’re told has unlimited ice cream.
It is such a wonderful evening, full of laughter and TONS of good food.
Me, Morgan, Annie, Amanda, Amber, and Jessica.
Team Joy’l.
We’re together for Christmas, and it’s SUCH a blessing.

After 2 and a half hours of good eats and 3 servings of ice cream (hehe),
we head back to the apartment where we each decide to open one small gift from our stockings.
Tomorrow, Christmas Day, we’ll make a nice breakfast, watch Christmas movies, Skype our families, and open the rest of the presents in our stockings, but for tonight, we each get to open one little gift.

The 6 of us then pile into Kate, Alyssa and Jaclyn’s room to join them for a movie.
What do we choose, but Elf, of course!
I love this movie.
It never fails to make me LAUGH out loud every 5 seconds.

I randomly check my watch.
“Girls! It’s midnight! It’s Christmas!”
A chorus of Merry Christmases rings out,
and all of the sudden, it really does feel like Christmas.

Together, Team Joy’l and Team Gateway,
curled up on mattresses and couches,
with the AC cranked down low
and the dim lights of the Christmas tree behind us…
It begins to feel a little bit like home.

And it’s really, really nice.
The Lord is in the little things.
It’s Christmas Day!

Happy Birthday, Jesus.
Merry Christmas, everyone!

In case you’re wondering, J Squad is headed to Cambodia next. 
This is our last week here in Malaysia.
God has really blessed us this month, and we wish we had more time here.
To everyone we’ve worked with, CK, Kelvin, Kirsten, Ted, Sarah, Uncle Ben, Peter, Les & Ping, Ed, Dan, Josh, Choon Ean, and so many others that I’m forgetting…thank you for being so wonderful to us! You’ve blessed us in SO many ways!

Your thoughts would look GOOD here :)