28 November 2011

It's Nochebuena time again!

It's the time of year again gearing up for our BIG Nochebuena (Christmas Eve) outreach!
Actually, we are getting a late start this year due to my trip to the USA, but, never the less, Christmas Eve will still arrive Dec 24 whether we are ready or not! So...we plan to be ready!
Those not familiar with this, what we do is host a BIG dinner party for families that live alongside the largest land fill dump in Central America.
Actually, the idea is a special night for these people. Most cannot afford a traditional Christmas Eve dinner of tamales, much less presents for their children.
This is a very densely populated neighborhood, very dangerous with gangs, drugs etc. It is very dark spiritually as well, and at Christmas time it is even more depressing for the people there.

Servant team 2010
 So what we do is invite them to a Nochebuena CELEBRATION! 
I form a servant team with the youth we work with from a children's home. These kids have very little themselves, but when given a chance to serve those with less, look out! They spend weeks preparing, practicing songs, practicing a drama for the kids, wrapping gifts, making decorations etc!
Then on the 24th, we rent a bus and go into Zona 3 to Casita Benjamin where we have the event!
The kids decorate the place, lead Christmas carols to begin the program. Then while the adults receive an evangelistic message of hope, our team has a program for the children with a drama and songs.
This year the director at Casita Benjamin and I did some brainstorming and decided to try something new. We are going to hold the first part of our program, singing carols and the evangelistic message, out in the street! Right outside the Casita we will set up speakers and are sure we will draw many more neighbors to come hear the singing and the message! I am very excited for this!

Singing Christmas carols
 Then it's time for dinner, and after dinner each child receives a wrapped gift. We will also provide a basket of basic goods for each family. These baskets contain things like, sugar, rice, pasta, salt, cooking oil, soups, juices, oatmeal, and several other items.
Then after we say Feliz Navidad to the guests, we clean the Casita, load the bus up and return to the children's home.....where.....

Serving dinner
...we do it all again!
Well, most of it. We will sing songs, have another tamale dinner, perform the play, and then watch a movie with everyone there!
All told, between both events, we expect to host dinner for between 300 and 400 people!
It is a TON of work, but is even more fun!
One thing each year on top of it all, is the need to raise the funds to provide all of this.
And each year we have seen God come through for us in amazing, and different ways!
This year was no exception.
While in Texas, visiting Saint Andrew Presbyterian Church in Denton, TX, I was able to meet the missions committee there for the first time. I was happy about this as they have helped us with several ministries the past few years, and with us personally as well. I just wanted a chance to say thank you. They then asked me some questions about what things we had coming up, and I shared some about Nochebuena. But, I never asked for their help. 
Then, the very next day, I was informed they had decided to fully fund our project this year!
So...we are off and running!
Check here over the next month for some updates as we have several events to prepare for Christmas Eve, then the big event itself on December 24th!

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