When you're poor, like people in the remote villages of northern Laos who partner with World Renew, you don't often have the luxury of taking a rest day. But people in the large cities have begun to adopt some of the commercial trappings of Christmas—lights, colors, Christmas trees, sweets, and gifts. I've seen a child dressed in Santa pajamas walk into a store to buy candy. Some people in Laos know that Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus, but it doesn't mean much more to them than Buddha's birthday.
For families in the villages we work with, December is a time of rest and celebration after the long, hard work of farming through the rainy season, which culminates in harvest celebrations. Among people celebrate their own traditional New Year in December. For a week or two, the whole province of Xiengkhouang, where one of our projects is based, is filled with the jangle of traditional outfits covered in tinkling coins; the roar of bulls and buffalos itching to fight each other in early-morning ring fights; and the sounds and smells of dozens of special recipes cooking for days.
Christians in Laos are a small minority, less than 2% of the population, but for them, Christmas is the biggest celebration of the year. They hold special church services with music and food, invite neighbors and friends, and use it as a chance to express their faith. While most of our staff are not Christians, we usually hold small celebrations at our offices, complete with gifts, games, and a special meal. At the World Renew office in Xiengkhouang, we sometimes butcher a small cow and grill it as part of our Christmas gathering. The 5-year old son of Jonsy, one of our field staff in Xieng Khouang, loves it so much that he has been asking his dad for weeks when the World Renew Christmas party will take place!
James and Sarah plan to spend Christmas celebrating with relatives who are flying from the US to visit, along with a small group of other foreigners in Phonsavan. Mike and Moe Moe Fennema and children will fly to Myanmar for a week to celebrate Christmas with family there.
We are all grateful for the chance to be with family for Christmas, and grateful for the many good gifts and blessings which God has given us in the past year. Thank you all for your support!
World Renew Laos