I wore my winter coat all day yesterday. No. It didn’t snow, but it was raining all day. It was a cold steady rain that seemed to be the norm for most days last year in Istanbul from December through early March. One of the benefits of moving to Gaziantep was supposed to be that it was drier here. Well, not for the past three days. It has been the same cold grey rain that gets under your skin and does its best to suck the joy right out of you.
Like I said, I wore my coat all day yesterday. I should have been able to take it off when I was at the school but the uninsulated walls of that building are just as bad at keeping the cold out in the winter as they are at keeping the heat out in the summer. This song, let it snow, is supposed to be all about staying nice and warm and cozy indoors while the weather outside is miserable. In my apartment that is true. The gas which heats my tiny little place is covered in my rent so I can make my place as cozy as I want to. It isn’t until I open my front door until that the reality of just how cold it is outside hits me.
This isn’t the case when we are all keeping our coats on at the school. There is an electric heater in each of the classrooms but they are simply inadequate to the assignment we ask of them. I haven’t payed attention inside that building but I would guess that while the outside has been mid to high thirties these past few days, in that building has probably been low fifties in the classrooms and mid forties elsewhere. I was in that cooler hallway with all the kids lined up to wash their hands for lunch when I complained about the cold. One of the kids just shrugged and said, my house is the same. Another piped in, my house is colder. Of course then it turned into a competition as all things do with third grade boys as to whose house is the coldest. To a degree they are exaggerating I am sure, but not by much.
I commute about forty minutes by bus to get to the school. I am in a part of town that is mostly students and/or middle class (by Turkish standards not American). Nearly all the kids who go to this school live within three or four blocks of this school. The building their school takes two floors of is just the same as the buildings their homes are in. I have seen some of those homes and the school really is a step up. For many of these students, when it is hot outside it is an oven in their apartments. When it is windy outside, they can feel the draft. And when it is cold outside, they live in a large refrigerator. I kept my coat on all day yesterday. Many of my students live with their winter coats on all season.
So when you hear this song this season, make sure to thank God for even the small luxuries you have like heat. But also don’t forget those who are unable to keep that miserable weather outside. It is not just refugee children in Southeast Turkey who live in such conditions. There are those in cities throughout the world living on the streets or squatting in buildings where the luxuries we take for granted are dreams they cannot attain. If you can, take a day this season to do something for those who might be in such a situation in your community or the city nearest you. Volunteer at a soup kitchen. Give away your coat. It is already too late to fill up a Samaritan’s Purse shoebox but they and World Vision do have Christmas catalogs. Whatever you can do… do it. Please don’t keep the fire of God’s love safe and sheltered inside the comfortable four walls of your home. Spread it around.