The cruise ship was an exciting place for three rescue dogs from Minnesota! The dogs followed Norman everywhere. They listened to groups singing Christmas carols, watched guests place decorations on a large tree in the main activity room, and sat under the table for each meal. Occasionally, the dogs were treated to cookies as people drank eggnog and told stories about Christmases past.
Then, the ship stopped. Norman said they were in Israel. As they left the ship, they saw crowds of happy people in the streets and stores. This celebration was different. People lit large candles called menorahs that had not have just one candle, but nine. Norman said this celebration is “Hanukkuh.” He explained that the eight candles represented eight days of miracles and one was lit each day of celebration. The ninth candle lights the others.
Then, Norman said he had a surprise. “I’m going to take you three to a little nearby town,” he said. He and the dogs rode for miles along bumpy roads in a cramped truck with a local man who spoke in a language not familiar to the dogs. Norman understood. When they arrived in the little town, the dogs were awestruck. They saw angels in the sky, a little manger with a Baby set up in front of small church on the main street, and a man and woman hovered over the Baby. Camels rested near the scene as well as sheep. Men dressed as shepherds walked through the crowds of people with their staff. Sometimes they came close to the Baby in the manger. Three men came with gifts and knelt before the Baby.
Norman told the dogs the Story. Each year, the town of Bethlehem reenacts the very first Christmas. Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem. Mary was going to have a Baby, but there was no room in the inn, so they stayed in a manger with the animals. Mary gave birth to her Son and called Him Jesus. The angels announced the miracle and coming of the Savior to the Shepherds and they came to see Him. The three men with gifts are wise men from the East who saw His Star and are here to worship Him and give Him gifts. “This is a very special Baby,” Norman said. “He was born on Christmas day. He came to save the world so that everyone who believes in Him can go to heaven with Him some day.”
The dogs slowly approached the Baby, and, between the crowds of people, they knelt before the manger. They wished they could tell Him how far they traveled to find Him and how happy they were to have found Him. They wanted to tell Him that during all their travels, as they searched for Christmas, they found people caring and helping each other everywhere they went. Mark and Jenny adopted them, Emily found her Tiny dog and her neighbors shared their love with her, Tommy found a new family and did not have to stay at the orphanage any longer, Arrie was rescued from the mountains, and Norman became a friend and was less lonely this Christmas. Now, they were here and finally found Christmas.
The dogs wished they could tell the Baby how they realized all these things and how they realized that Christmas is all about Him. Baby Jesus brought us all Christmas and because of Him, they found Christmas everywhere they had been. What a wonderful time of the year! Now, they wished they could tell Jenny that Christmas was not lost at all. But how? They were a long way from home. And she and Mark were not here.
Then, a man in the crowd pointed and shouted, “These are the lost dogs from America!”
“What?” wondered the dogs. “Lost, us?” They did not understand.
“Yes, it’s them,” agreed another. “I saw their pictures on the computer.”
People gathered around to read the dogs’ tags. They called Mark and Jenny to tell them their dogs were found. Mark and Jenny came to Israel to rescue their dogs back again.
The dogs kissed Norman and the others good-bye and boarded a plane to America. They were guests this time – not stowaways. When they landed in America, they were greeted by crowds welcoming them as heroes. “Let’s get you guys home,” Mark said. Jenny agreed. They went home to celebrate Christmas together.
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