To Africa (and Back) With Love

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You know how every once in a while you meet someone that just sparkles and makes you want to as well? 


Today’s guest blogger is just such a person. Although Meredith Queen is only 15 years old, she has a depth of beauty that far surpasses her years. Maybe it was the four years she spent in Africa. Or maybe it’s just the One Who lives within her. You decide…


(Meredith pictured lower right with her family)



As the Christmas season arrives and flies by, memories have impacted my life through family and friends.


I was five years old when we arrived in Africa. From the first time we went to the village, I noticed how the moms did all the work, and kids did not have their parents to spend time with them. 


That is when I tried to set up my own way to play with the kids, and show the love of Christ to them. From playing games, to painting nails, I loved getting to spend every moment with those kids. Ever since then, I always bring with me a bottle of nail polish with me wherever I go. 


My family brought our own Christmas tree and ornaments to Africa. While we were there, we bought stockings and a tree skirt, all made from African material.


Most of the time, we received gifts from grandparents and our South Carolinian church family. It would always be filled with candy, purses, jewelry, and once I remember even a fruitcake. Getting a package helped me feel excited about getting gifts and made me miss the people that I truly loved. 


Of course, sometimes the gift would take a couple of weeks before it arrived, Once, it never made it at all.


During my years in Africa, I remained very aware that the children around me did not have as much as I had. Most Africans did not have a Christmas tree. I had running water in the city, and electricity (when it worked). But they did not. Yet, I learned from them as they shared of what little they had.    


Now that we have returned to South Carolina, our family has begun a tradition which reminds me of my life in Africa. Every year, we participate in Operation Christmas Child and pack shoeboxes full of gifts that travel the world.  This year, our family decided to pack two shoeboxes.  When we coupled them with those we packed in our Sunday School class, we had a hand in sending out thirteen boxes. 


Giving is the true joy of Christmas. It is not about getting gifts. But, about making some child happy, who may never get a Christmas present again. I will probably never know who received my shoebox or which country they are from, but the thought of making a child happy, and sharing about the love of Christ, makes all the hustle and bustle of Christmas go away.