Let me just start by saying that I am perfectly happy here with my family today, but I have another family that I would also like to be with. I met them two years ago, on my first mission trip.

In December of 2015 I went to the country of Myanmar, or Burma, as most people know it, with a team of fifteen people. We were there for about twelve days, and it was the most incredible experience of my life. We spent most of our time visiting different orphanages, and ministering to the children there, but Christmas day was the best day by far.

The day started early; if I remember correctly, we departed for the orphanage at seven a.m. We were all excited that morning, and got dressed up in our longis; long skirts that are considered the traditional dress for the women in that country. Then we headed for Love Children’s Home, which was one of the largest orphanages in the network that we visited. In Myanmar, Christmas day is the only time of the year when you are legally allowed to evangelize, and every year the orphanage does just that for the surrounding villages. They put on a big church service, and invite hundreds of people, and then they give them a meal. Many people come for the food, as they may not be able to afford a meal every day of the week, but before they are fed physically, they are fed spiritually.

Many of the children from the nearby orphanages were there, and I recognized some from the places we had visited previously. I got a bunch of hugs from a bunch of little ones, and then a couple little girls took my hands and led me to sit down. The service was really interesting; it felt long because it was in a different language, but there were times when we understood, like when they sang “Joy to the World.”

Towards the end of the message, they said a prayer. This prayer was for those in the crowd that wanted to accept Christ as their Savior. After they prayed, someone explained it in English, and asked for the members of our team to go and pray with those that had stood up. I glanced around, and looked for someone to pray with, and then I realized that multiple children were standing up around me, and they needed prayer. I grabbed my friend and a handful of girls and we stood in a circle and began to pray. I had only said one sentence when I was overcome with emotion, and the tears started flowing. It suddenly dawned on me how little these children had, and yet all their needs were met. They loved God so much, and he provided for them.

My friend took over praying for the group, but pretty soon she was crying too. The little girls were giving us some funny looks, and we tried to communicate to them that we were crying because we were happy, because of course, they spoke a different language. They started giving us hugs, and were very sweet, and we all sat back down to wait for what was next. I had a couple little girls clustered around me as I sat down, and one of them reached up and brushed a tear from my cheek.

It was the sweetest, simplest gesture, and yet it is the thing I remember most from that trip. I think about Myanmar every day, how many cheerful, smiling faces I saw, and how many friends I made. I hope and pray that one day I will get to go back, and celebrate Christmas with my friends again. It was then that I was reminded of why we celebrate this time of year, and that as long as I have Christ living in me I don’t need to find anything under the tree, because He is the ultimate gift.