Well, this year Nochebuena (Christmas Eve) fell on December 24th again....hmmmm...imagine that! And, as every year it began early for us. Started arranging all the many things to load and take with us to Casita Benjamín. Then, down to the panaderia to pick up 350 Pirujos (a type of bread). Then, at noon, the bus arrived at our house and we loaded Canastas de Víveres (baskets of provisions) decorations, props, cookies, disposable plates etc. etc. etc.
Then we left to pick up our servant team of youth, and headed to Zona 3 and Casita Benjamin, arriving about 1:30 PM.
|2011 Servant team and helpers|
When we arrived we unloaded the bus, then the team began decorating the Casita. One of our older youth, Erika, was in charge of decorating! She planned, directed the making of, and installing all the decorations! And the place looked the best ever!
|Decorating the Casita|
This year there was even more decorating to do because we added a new wrinkle...some of our program would be held outside in the street! So, we needed some decorations outside, as well as inside.
|Greeting outside for the neighbors!|
After the decorating, we had time for one last rehearsal of the drama, then people began to arrive! And then more, and more!
We began with our youth leading singing of Christmas carols outside in the street! We had quite a few neighbors come join us that would not normally have been a part if we just had the program inside!
|Some of the people in the street singing carols|
The youth did a great job of singing strongly and there were lots of smiles all around!
The music was directed by Oscar Ávila, and as every year, he did a wonderful job!
|Our youth team leading singing in the street!|
After the time of singing was finished, we had all of the children enter the Casita, and had all of the adults remain outside in the street.
Our good friend Benjamin Melendez then gave a fantastic Gospel message out in the street for the parents of the kids and all of the neighbors!
|Christmas Carols outside Casita Benjamín|
While Benjamin was preaching out in the street, our youth were performing a drama of the Christmas story for all of the kids inside. Another of our older girls, Diana, was in charge of directing the drama. It was EXCELENTE!
|Our youth team performing the Christmas story!|
We had more people than ever before this year, and more kids than ever too! They LOVED the drama, were quiet and captivated by it!
After the drama, Diana gave a lesson to clearly explain what they had just seen, then led them all in prayer before we served the tamale dinner!
|Some of the kids watching the drama!|
While this is all going on, the message finished outside and we had all of the adults enter for the dinner.
Best guesstimate is about 250 people!
|Receiving their tamales, ponche and pan|
After our youth team served everyone, then served dessert of Sandi's Christmas cookies, and then collected all of the trash....it was time to present each family with a canasta de viveres, and each child with a gift!
|Some of the adults inside Casita Benjamín|
We had exactly enough canastas so each family received one...we gave out 58 canastas at the Casita!
And we had just enough gifts for all of the children, with only a couple left over! We cut it close this year, having a bigger crowd than we had dreamed of! God is good and does answer our prayers!
|Happy family leaving with their canasta and gifts!|
Lots of happy faces as people were leaving with their gifts!
Then we cleaned up the Casita, loaded up the bus and returned to Las Aldeas, where our youth live, and had another tamale dinner there! We had made a total of 70 canastas, planning to give canastas to each house there, and also the workers, but after the size of the crowd at Casita Benjamin, we were 12 baskets short for Las Aldeas.
They will receive their canastas, just a few days late! We will be making more baskets over the next day or two!
It's a good problem to have!
I cannot say how proud I am of all of our youth, They did an incredible job of not just singing, performing and serving, but they loved those precious people and served with hearts overflowing...touching many, and letting people see Christ through them.
All in all, PRAISE the Lord!!!
People were loved, heard a clear Gospel message, and saw it lived out in our servants.
Thank you one and all for your prayers and support of this impacting outreach!
May God bless you!