Monday, December 27, 2004

International Christmas – Think Globally; Celebrate Locally

More than ever before, this Christmas season has made me aware of the rich global network I have been blessed to participate in. I am pleased to share with you some gleanings from the harvest of communications I shared this past week with family and friends scattered across the globe:

· I received an e-mail update from a friend who is involved in AIDS education in the Republic of Haiti, a troubled nation that I called home for one year back in the 70’s, while I served as the Administrator of a small mission hospital in the mountains high above Port-au-Prince.

· An e-mail conversation with another friend – a West Point alumna and recent graduate of Harvard Business School. She is spending her Fulbright Scholarship doing AIDS research in Singapore on behalf of a pharmaceutical company.

· An e-mail conversation with my son’s Romanian father-in-law – written partly in Romanian, English and French.

· Christmas greetings via phone and e-mail with friends in Quebec City – mostly in English, but partly in French.

· Dinner a few days before Christmas with a special family I have come to love in Newton, MA. Among the ethnic strains and heritage represented in this remarkable extended family are Armenian, Greek, Turkish, Egyptian, Indonesian (Sumatra), and American Jewish!

· A phone call on Christmas Eve from Moscow as it was turning midnight there. Vasili Zhuravlev, a TV anchor and journalist who calls himself my “Russian son” was calling to send greetings from him, his wife and new son, his parents, and the many friends I have developed in Moscow from my 10 visits there since 1992.

· A “Merry Christmas” call from a Muslim friend from Morocco.

· Christmas Eve worship in Barrington, NH with my sons –Ti and Scott, daughter-in-law – Raluca, granddaughter, Laurelin. Following a moving service in which Scripture was read in five different languages, we repaired to Ti and Raluca’s home for a traditional Romanian Christmas dinner. It was a delight to see the joy in Raluca’s eyes as we kept asking for seconds of schnitzel and her special signature dish (one that I learned to love at the home of her parents in Craiova, Romania) - salată de boeuf.

· Later that evening, we received a visit from a large gentleman clad in a suit of red with white trim. He was bearded and had an infectious laugh. Two-year-old Laurelin was initially terrified, but as she watched her two neighbors crawl up into Santa’s lap with no apparent ill effects, she eventually came around and spent time on his lap as well. She was eventually so enthralled with his visit that she kept jumping up and down and slapping herself on the side of the head in sheer delight!

· A Christmas day conversation with my son, Tim, who is spending time in Poland teaching English. His teaching assignment is in the town of Katowice, but he is spending the Christmas break in Krakow, visiting a girlfriend who is from Latvia – the daughter of ethnic Russian parents. Tim described a memorable and beautiful midnight Mass at a church in Krakow – with the Mass being sung and celebrated partly in Polish and partly in Latin.

· Christmas greetings from business associates in Kuwait City, Beijing, Croatia, Calgary and Wellington, NZ.

· The news of the devastating earthquake off the coast of Sumatra brought home the point of how interconnected we are. Within hours of learning of the widespread damage, I made calls to check on the well being of family and friends in Bangkok, Jakarta and Sri Lanka.

We are an intricate web of interconnected families, friends and business colleagues scattered among scores of countries and all continents. It is my prayer that in the New Year of 2005, the strands of that web will strengthen and tighten, and the understanding and cooperation that exists at the personal level will percolate upwards to more universal understanding and trust at the level of nations.

Wishing God’s Blessing on you for 2005!


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