Tuesday, December 15, 2009
I hope that you are all well. I canít believe itís been a year since we saw all of you at the census. We thought we might send a letter to bring everyone up to speed. Perhaps you could write back and let us know how your year has been. Who knows, this might take off one day.
With all of the chaos in Bethlehem at the time, we arenít really sure what day the baby was born, but it was close to December 24th. The day doesnít really matter because he had 10 fingers, 10 toes, a wrinkly little smile and a full head of hair. Jesus is a year old now and already almost 2 cubits tall. He has my eyes and it looks like he will grow big and strong. I have been working hard to get back into my old dresses and Joseph says I look as good as I did before. :-)
I canít believe how crowded it was in Bethlehem. So many people were sleeping on the streets and in back alleys. Thankfully, we found an innkeeper named Galron who let us stay in the stable. Man, oh man, was he in trouble when his wife found out he put a woman who was big as a house in the barn, but we all had a good laugh. Samuela, Galronís wife, was so sweet. When she found out that we had to travel to Egypt with a newborn on our old donkey she insisted that we take a new mare instead. She said itís the least she could do with her husband putting a pregnant woman in the barn. What a gift that was. I couldnít imagine taking the old mule 250 km.
We met a fun group of shepherds in Bethlehem. They were staying in the alley right behind the stable. There wasnít enough room for them inside, but Galron had extra straw so that worked out well. These guys were awesome. Anything we needed from the market they would get for us, and they even put together the cutest little manger for Jesus to use as a crib. Anytime anyone near the stable got loud enough to disturb me or Jesus the shepherds would get after them. Thanks guys!
By now you have heard that we are in Egypt because an angel warned Joseph in a dream. I know what you are thinking ó it was a nightmare. But after the angel visit I got a while back, we take these things seriously. Unfortunately, we left in such a rush that we didnít get to see the men from Pakistan. Thankfully, Samuela forwarded the gifts to us. The frankincense and myrrh smell so beautiful; everything around smells wonderful because of it. Right now, we havenít decided what to do with the gold, but it never hurts for a young family to have a rainy day fund.
Joseph has been working since we got here. Cairo is sprawling and new houses that are popping up everywhere, so itís a great time to be a carpenter. Heís working with a well established contractor named Abubakar. Abubakar says he is really happy with Josephís work ethic; I guess the local men arenít used to working as hard as the men from back home. We are renting a couple of rooms in one of Abubakarís houses, but he says that when works slows down in the summer he and Joseph will build us a place of our own. That will be nice now that Jesus is toddling around and getting into EVERYTHING!!!
In September, we had a chance to travel to Giza with Josephís work. Jesus got his first camel ride and an artist made a wonderful caricatures portrait of the family on back of the camel. It was a long ride out and back so that new mare worked out well again (thanks again Samuela, I canít imagine what our lives would be like without you.)
Mary, Joseph and Jesus
(The letter is a gift from Randy Schatz, of Moorhead, Minn., where heís a member of Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd. Schatz helps readers imagine what Mary and Joseph might have written in their first ďChristmasĒ letter. )