Saturday, January 3, 2015

When God Does Your Christmas

I also just did a post about how our dreams are so small compared to God's dreams for us. That also includes Christmas presents. And this year, He really outdid himself. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, the post about how Ruth got to travel all over England for 11 days, all expenses paid. Wait, what? It's true. It's miraculous! And it was through no certain travel schemes or extreme couponing that this came about. In fact, it had nothing to do with me at all. No, this is the story of how how three families showed me the meaning of Christmas through their unbridled hospitality and selfless giving. This is my Christmas in England.

I've always dreamed of seeing where my ancestors came from, of exploring the footsteps of my mother from 20 years ago, and standing face to face with the most handsome man in the world...Big Ben! I'd come up with several plans before, but I was never able to pull it off. But never in a million years could I have dreamed up a trip like the one I just had.

This being my first Christmas abroad, I had absolutely no idea what to do while my host family traveled out of town, furnishing me with two weeks of holiday bliss to go out and explore. But explore where? I wanted to travel, but I also wanted to feel like it was Christmastime. Christmastime meant family and fireplaces and Christmas movies and singing Christmas carols. Kind of a tall order when you are living by yourself in a foreign country.

But God had a plan. Before I even had the chance to get nervous about it, my friend Emma invited me to join her family for the holidays. Now, I don't know if any of you have ever invited a foreigner to your Christmas celebration, but let me tell you, I think it's a pretty rare thing. Christmas is time with family, time for traditions. I was none of those. And yet this family who I had never met not only invited me to spend that special day with them, but to house me and feed me too. At first I felt like an inconvenience. But throughout my time there, they did so much to make me feel welcome, I couldn't imagine spending my Christmas anywhere else.

A second family to open their arms to me during the holidays was my former nanny, now with a family of her own in the quiet town of Spennymoor tucked away in the north of England. This is the same town where my mom spent some time over 20 years ago, and I was anxious to retrace her steps and meet her acquaintances. I arranged to visit her after Boxing Day (December 26th, a national holiday in England) until New Year's Eve.

But that still put me nowhere closer to my dream city of London. After some extensive research into hostels, Airbnb, train tickets, buslines, and everything else, I was on the brink of giving up the whole idea, realizing that a day to The Big Smoke was hardly worth the train ticket to get there, and the cost of staying any longer pushed me completely outside my budget. Just before I was getting ready to go, I was going over my travel plans with my host family over dinner, and they reminded me that their eldest daughter had an apartment in London and since she would be traveling with them for the holidays, why didn't I just ask her if I could camp out at her place for a few nights? I could have died from excitement.

Now just to get to all these places. No problem for God! I was able to pay for my plane ticket through my Chase reward points, and my host family's Christmas present was money for train tickets that exactly covered the rest of my tickets to London and to Spennymoor. And both my hosts in England provided transportation to and from the airport.

Spending money? Food in London? Tickets to attractions? Just the icing on the cake. My host family paid me my regular pocket money in advance, even for the two weeks I was on vacation, which covered all of my other costs while in England. You can't make this stuff up people.

You can read all these travel blogs about how to travel abroad on the cheap, but let me tell you, no cash-back rewards system or holiday travel bundle can compete with having God as your travel guide. I don't want to sound corny, but there really is no other explanation. God delights in giving gifts to His children. And not just any gifts. Big ones. He doesn't always send us where we don't want to go (though He may for a time... I've been there.) He desires to go above and beyond to have us realize our dreams. I am humbled and still a little dazed from how deeply I have felt His hospitality and generosity and love through so many people over the past two weeks.

So now that you know HOW I got to travel all over England during my Christmas break, in my next few posts, you'll get to see WHAT and WHO I got to see! Stay tuned, darlings!

1 comment:

  1. Wow this is an amazing story. Sounds like a dream come true!