My kids' Sunday School teacher pulled me aside after the service.
She was talking to me in Swahili, and I was alarmed by what I was hearing. Finally, I asked her to switch to English. I wanted to make sure I understood exactly what she was saying.
Unfortunately, the message had not been lost in translation. Except it sounded even worse in English.
During Sunday School, all the children sit on a mat outside. The teacher told me that one of my children had found a little pouch with money in it. Even though it was in close proximity to another child, my child took the money. Another one of my children witnessed this event and encouraged the other child, saying, "Good job!"
Of course, it was all brought to light (thankfully), and my two children were implicated in this scheme.
It definitely was one of the more humiliating experiences of my life.
Oh yes, the children of the missionaries stole money from a child who is probably a thousand times poorer than they are. At church. That made me feel really good.
We slunk away with our tails between our legs.
At home, Gil took one little thief and I took the other. We both extracted that each child knew exactly what they were doing. And each knew that it was wrong.
I wanted to shake that child and yell, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING? And, WELL, THERE GOES CHRISTMAS!
But then I remembered: Christmas.
You know, we want our kids to understand the "true meaning of Christmas," don't we? That's it's not all about the presents and the parties and the cookies. And we tell them and we tell them and their eyes glaze over and they look over our shoulder at the presents under the tree.
This time was different. I looked deep into my child's eyes and said, "This is why Jesus had to come to earth. Because our hearts are full of sin. Because it pops out of our hearts when we least expect it. Because our lives are broken. Because God loves us anyway and we need to be rescued. That's why we celebrate Christmas!"
And the child looked back and me and I saw an inkling of understanding.
Long lay the world
In sin and error pining
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope
The weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks
A new and glorious morn!