Christmas has always felt a certain way for me. It’s always been cold, or at least cool, and most of the time I’m hoping for a fresh blanket of snow to make the dead of winter feel fresh and clean.

And the smells! Those cold nights that leave your nose frozen when you breathe in the air that smells of snow! Cookies baking! A warm home filled with family enjoying games, food, conversation, laughs, and gifts!

All of these things have always been so special to me over the years. As I tried to make my new home here in Papua New Guinea feel like Christmas in weather that can get up to the 80s during the day, no snow, no warm home filled with our families, it just seemed to fall short.

Then, we took part in a candlelight Christmas carol singing here in Ukarumpa. As we sang “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” with the piano playing, I was taken back to caroling with family. Tears filled my eyes, and I got choked up and couldn’t keep singing. It was powerful too that I had someone standing next to me that I was always so comfortable singing next to in church back home—my mom-in-law.

Fred’s mom was able to visit for two weeks, an incredible blessing!

Fred welcomes his mother to Papua New Guinea. Photo credit Jodi Leman


Grandma gets hugs from all the kids. Photo credit Jodi Leman


The Leman family together again. Photo shared by Jodi Leman

That was the moment Christmas came to me here in Ukarumpa, on the other side of the world from what I’ve known as Christmas for the 30 years of my life.

So I asked myself, “What, in this very moment, is making it finally feel like Christmas?” The answer was singing. Then I asked, “What is singing?” There it was … it’s worship!

Ahhh, I finally understood in that moment! The worship of the Lamb is what I had to bring to my home for Christmas! Yes, we’ve always had worship in our home, but here in Ukarumpa worship must be our mainstay! I can decorate all I want and make a tree with Fred and put lights up and make cookies with the kids, but if we aren’t worshiping then it’s all pointless!




All of this talk of worship reminded me that Fred had recently had the opportunity to be a part of a Bible dedication on a remote island.* I was reminded yet again of why God brought us here! To help bring the Word of God to the remote people groups of PNG!

Worship the Lord with gladness, come before him with joyful songs (Psalm 100:2).

So this Christmas season as we think of Mary cradling her sweet baby Jesus let’s remember that he is worthy of our worship! Even as a babe!

May God bless your Christmas just like he has blessed our Christmas here in PNG!

*Read more about this Bible dedication here.

This article originally appeared in the November 2020 Centerline e-newsletter.  Want to subscribe to Centerline? Go here.

Jodi Leman

Jodi Leman

Fred and Jodi, who joined Wycliffe in 2017, serve translators and the Bibleless people of PNG. Roughly 300 of PNG’s 800 languages still need Bible translation. As a helicopter pilot, Fred supports the translators with transportation, delivery of supplies and equipment, and medical evacuation. Jodi cares for their family and assists in various staff care roles.