As the year comes to an end, Christmas celebrations begin. Our last team brought over 100 Christmas gift bags for all ages of children. We have been sorting, counting and putting gifts together to get ready to give out at the many church celebrations through out the community. The celebrations will begin December 20, of course as most things go here I will miss the very parties we are planning. I will be traveling to the States December 19, bright and early.
I had the privilege to attend an early Christmas party at Vida Nueva, a orphanage that specializes in mal-nutritioned babies. Santa came and gave gifts to all the kids. We had a great lunch and watched the kids play with their new toys.
It was great to see the kids eyes light up when Santa arrived, quickly followed by comments and questions like,"Why is Santa so skinny?" "Is he sick?" "Last year he was fat!" "What happened to him?". It was pretty funny to listen and watch the kids react to Santa. Some did react the same as the kids in the States. The minute they see Santa they burst into tears....
One team for the States came down just to give the kids a special Christmas. They brought wrapped presents for each and every child. Even the babies got toys for their cribs. The women that work at the center got the kids all dressed up in their Christmas clothes even though it was 90 degrees outside.
It has been fun to go to the center and see the toddlers play with their new toys. And the infants become more active with the new mobiles and crib toys allowing them to have much needed exercise.
Along with Christmas celebrations comes Graduation time for the Nicaraguan school year. Gloria, along with the teachers, planned a beautiful graduation ceremony for preschoolers and sixth graders from La Chureca. The sixth graders will move on to go to school outside the confines of the garbage dump. This is the second class of students who will move on to go to secondary school. The ceremony was held at Verbo Church (my home church). Parents from La Chureca came by a charter bus dressed in
their best clothes with their heads held high. Even though though young ones had a hard time sitting still and oh, how hard they tried to not hit each other with their hats, the ceremony went off without a hitch. We heard speeches from the teachers giving words of encouragement to the parents. One teacher who grew up in the dump community shared her story of how the school changed her life. She went to school to become a teacher and now serves in that very school. Others gave thanks to the parents for allowing their kids to attend school. Most families that live in the dump have their kids working in the garbage as soon as they turn old enough to carry out the tasks necessary or leave the kids with friends or family that might not aways be safe.
Along with hearing from the teachers, the new Pastor of the new church at the school was introduced to the kids and their friends and family. This past year we had a Pastor from a church in Portland, Trinity Project, came down to Nica and offered to support a new branch of Verbo church in La Chureca. The first service is coming up this Saturday. I am excited to see the turnout for this new project.t. Your prayers will be appreciated.
For entertainment we watched two women dance traditional Nicaraguan dance. We also watched a song and dance performed by a group of kids from the middlegrades. The song, of course I couldn't understand very well, but it had to do something with helping others out when they need it.
I really appreciate the Nicaraguan culture and the way they pass down traditions from generation to generation. You often see little girls and teenagers learning their native dances and then dressing in the traditional dresses and performing the dances at special occasions.
- Praise God for all the work that Ministries are doing together here in Nicaragua.
- Praise God for the new Pastor in La Chureca, Ramon and his wife Miriam.
- Pray for Ramon and Miraim's guidance and wisdom.
- Pray the Lord would prepare the hearts of the people who live in la Chureca to come to the opening of this new church.
- Pray for safety and protection for Gloria, Wilbert, my family here and myself as we drive in the streets if Nica. (all of us have recently experienced a fender bender or theft in the past two weeks)
- Pray for good health for Gloria.
- Pray for safe travel for all the missionaries traveling to the states for the holidays.
Thank you all for your support and prayers.