Friday, January 9, 2009

Christmas Memory

Dear Family:

I haven't sent a message for so long to the Blog site that I am embarrassed. But, as I sit here tonight I have been thinking of the special Christmas we had in China this year...

A couple weeks before Christmas, on a Sunday night, "Silence" and his girlfriend, "Rose" called me and ask if they could come to the apartment to visit. I was excited to have them come over, as Silence is a very quiet, homely, withdrawn boy who is shy and never has much to say in class. In fact, I felt very flattered that they wanted to visit.
When they arrived, he was carrying some type of musical instrument he wanted to play for us. I still don't know what the English word for the instrument is, but he played it very well. He entertained us for several minutes and ask if there was any song we would like to hear. He ask me if I would like him to play "Over the River and Through the Woods", and proceeded to play it for us. I took "Over the River" on CD to class ONE time and he had never heard it before that day!!! He told me that any song he hears, he can play. He plays by ear and he is very gifted. And little Rose, just sits and watches him and smiles.
They stayed for a short hour and were preparing to leave, when I ask him if he would like a sweater Roger had bought which is WAY too small for him. Silence said, "No, I could never take that beautiful sweater". I told him several times that it did not fit Roger and that we were going to have to throw it away, if we could not find someone who would wear it. He kept saying NO, but I could tell by his actions that he wanted the sweater. Then Roger came to my rescue and convinced him to take the sweater. I just prayed that we hadn't offended him by insisting he take the sweater.....and I forgot all about it..

As I was giving my final exams and it was time for the class that Silence and Rose were in, I was anxious to see them again. When their turn came for the oral exam, they spoke so well in English and were So-o-o-o-o cute. As they were preparing to leave, I told them they could take a small Christmas gift I had for all the students and they could choose the one they would like. Silence looked at me and said, "Mrs. Halladay, how do I look in my new sweater?" (he had on a white shirt and a nice looking sweater - THE sweater we had given him!) I proceeded to tell him how handsome he looked and he was all smiles. I encouraged him to choose a Christmas gift and he said, "No, Mrs. Halladay, I have the best gift I have ever received, this nice sweater, from you and Mr. Halladay". Needless to say, I couldn't say a word because of the huge lump in my throat.... WHAT A CHRISTMAS GIFT FOR ME.

On Christmas day, we both had to give final exams. I really was quite happy for that, I might add. I knew that if I was very busy, I would not have time to feel sorry for myself at missing Christmas with my dear family. It was just like any other day teaching and I was finished with the oral exams, when the entire class I had just tested, burst into the room singing "Jingle Bells" - in perfect English!!!!!
That started the tears...... and they would NOT stop. Then, as if that were not enough, they gave me a sweet card and a gift they had all chosen for me - a wall hanging. I know what a financial sacrifice that was for them....and all I could do was sit there and cry!!!!!! And, one of the girls gave me a framed picture of herself, another a counted cross stitched "pig" I had admired of hers, another a framed picture of two Chinese children. Oh, and on Christmas Eve - the same girl - Sara, left a sweet, sentimental Christmas card outside our apartmant door !
ALL my students were so concerned that I have a very Merry Christmas. They are so thoughtful, kind and caring. I cannot count the phone calls, text messages and e-mails I received wishing me a Merry Christmas. How blessed I am.

This is one Christmas I will NEVER forget. I always thought I knew the true meaning of Christmas, until I came to China......My sweet students don't know the real reason we celebrate Christmas, BUT they are the most Christlike people I have ever met. They exemplify the Savior in every action and deed and they show love to others, unconditionally, as He did. They care for and defend each other daily. They have their own "family" (fellow students) here at the University and they are true to them in every way. What an example they are to me. How I love them, with all my heart ! !

It is my prayer that all of you had a memorable Christmas this year. I hope your memories will be as vivid of this season as mine. I know that I will continue to learn from these special people and try to be like them and be as loyal to those I love, as they are. I am so blessed and I thank my Heavenly Father every day and night that I am in China at this time.
All My Love,