26 December 2012

Christmas in la casa de la familia Glick

Christmas 2012 in the Glick household was, as is each year, unique.
This year we had two newcomers to the Glick chaos. 
Luis and David Canil Gonzalez. Luis is 15 and David 13. Luis is the boy we are working on receiving custody of.
We are still working and waiting on the system but we did receive permission to have Luis for a few days here with us.
He was able to take part in the preparations and event Nochebuena, and then spend Christmas day with us.

Luis & Maria open their Christmas stockings
His younger brother wanted to spend Christmas with him so we brought him home for the night also.
This was their first experience at North American Christmas!

David seeing what is in there
It was fun watching them open their stockings and their gifts.

Luis is not certain about this worm that lights up when hit!
Some of it they couldn't quite figure out, but they would laugh with us and really enjoyed all of it.

Sandi with a one legged Santa! (it had two legs when she opened it - oooooops)
 It was really fun for Sandi and I to watch. Our Christmas' have seemed to get better as we have less, this year we only had a couple of simple gifts for each, and it was so fun to be more about us together, and less about the presents.

Luis was pretty happy to receive a jersey for his favorite team!
 We did have a jersey for Luis of his favorite team, the Cremas! and I might add champions this year!

Maria showing off her pictures of herself!
 Maria had a GREAT time, she loves the boys and is really wanting us to complete the process so her 'little brother' can come home to stay!

As always, the biggest mess award goes to Maria!
 This pic makes it look like Maria was spoiled again this year, but in reality, everyone had thrown their wrapping paper and boxes at Maria!

I, of course, received the best of the day - a Tigger bottle of shampoo!
 I had to leave my extensive Tigger collection behind when we moved to Guatemala, but somehow, have been receiving more here. This was a gift from Erika.

Luis relaxing after it all settled down
 Late in the afternoon we had to return Luis to the facility where he lives now, it is like a camp about 45 minutes away outside the city. Please keep praying we can complete the process by mid January so we can get him started in school on time.

It was a great Christmas, the only downside was not being with our other three children.
That is hard. It has been 6 years since we spent a Christmas with our son Jacob, 4 years since we spent a Christmas with Kimberly, and one year since we spent a Christmas with Felicita.
We are hoping one year soon (maybe 2013?) to have all of our kids here to share in Nochebuena and spend Christmas together!


Well another Christmas has now passed and we can truly give thanks to our Lord for what He has done again this year! 
After over a month of preparing suddenly it was the 24th and SHOWTIME!
Time to put all the work and practice we had done to use.
We started in the morning getting all of the things we would be bringing together. Then the bus arrived at our house, our worship team also arrived at our house, and we loaded all of the baskets and decorations, and cookies, and sound equipment and more and us etc onto the bus!
Then we picked up our youth team and headed into Zona 3 and Casita Benjamín!

Putting decorations together
When we got to the Casita, we had a brief devotion on the bus to remind all why we were there and to prepare everyone to serve and love on others.

Hanging decorations...I'm just posing
Then everyone worked together to unload the bus and all began to decorate the Casita for the day!

Our worship team getting people started out in the street!
At about 3 PM the worship team began leading some worship songs outside in the street. And some people began to slowly fill the chairs we had set up in the street.

Our youth leading the Christmas carols
Then our youth team joined in up front to lead the people singing Christmas carols!

A beautiful day to be singing to the Lord out in the streets!
Because last year became a bit chaotic in the street when it came time to enter for the dinner, we had a plan this year to register people ahead of time and give them tickets to enter for the dinner.
This helped a BUNCH. It also controlled giving out the Christmas baskets one per family, and also helped make sure each child only received one gift.

Hermano Benjamín preaching the Word to the people
After the singing our friend Benjamin Melendez gave a clear evangelical message and led the people in a prayer.
Then formed a long line out in the street to enter the Casita for the rest of the program!
When we registered people ahead of time and gave out tickets, we set a quota of 200 people.
And our quota quickly filled up a couple of weeks ago.
However, and we don't know why, many did not show up. We did allow a couple of families that came without tickets to register at the door. But, I would estimate the total at about 160- 180 people this year.

Our Diana teaching the kids about THE Christmas story
Once everyone entered, we had the children outside on the patio, and the adults inside.
Diana, one of our youth for several years, led the kids in some games and also explained the TRUE Christmas story to them.
Meanwhile, inside hermano Benjamin gave a short devotional to the adults and then a good discussion began spontaneously! 

The kitchen crew preparing to serve
 While that was going on, our crew in the kitchen was beginning to prepare plates of food!
And filling cups with juice!
Then our youth began serving the kids first, then the adults their dinners.

Some of the kids with their dinner
 This year we had Estofado instead of traditional Tamales. It is a mixture of beef, chicken and pork. It was really good and the people all seemed to enjoy it. They also received rice, salad, tortillas and our cookies we worked so hard to make!

He was actually excited about his food!
 I think the kids even liked it all because we didn't seem to have much of a mess afterwords! 

Meanwhile, inside the adults were also getting dinner!
 I know the adults liked it because many said so!

For dessert everyone got the cookies we made!
 After the dinner was served to all, our youth served the cookies to everyone, and then began collecting the trash and cleaning off the tables!

Ricardo & Andres were hungry but not allowed in the kitchen
 After dessert we had some of our team began to deliver the Christmas baskets to the families.
We gave out 42 baskets to families at the Casita. We also gave baskets to the houses our youth live in, and to director and guards at the childrens home.

Hugo giving one of the baskets to a family!
 After the families received their baskets they collected their children and headed for the exit where the kids would receive their gifts!

Waiting patiently (kind of) for their presents!
 It of course became a highly congested area very quickly, but still I think went pretty smoothly!

As they filed out the kids all received a gift
 We had our youth lined up on both sides, giving out gifts sorted by age and boy/girl.

Many expressed gratitude and thanks to our team as they left
 Everyone seemed to leave very happy, and even though we had fewer people this year, the Lord really blessed each one with a special time.

Finally all was cleaned up and our team got dinner!
 When all of the guests were gone, our youth cleaned the entire Casita and then we all sat on the floor and got our turn to eat!

On the bus ride home we gave diplomas and gifts to our servant team!
 The bus ride home is a special time each year, for our team to let it all out after hustling all day.
We pass out diplomas in recognition for their service, and have a Christmas gift for each one of them.
This years team was a tad more subdued than other years, but I say I am soooooooo proud of them.
They are a great team and I would take them anywhere with me! 
They blessed me, and lots of others with their service, smiles and love.
I love everyone of them and know the Lord is pleased with their service and their hearts.
Many, many people were blessed again this year, and we want to give thanks to all who have prayed for this outreach, all who gave for this outreach, and all who have worked to help us with this outreach.

Heme Aquí Señor (our church)

Sunday, Dec. 23 we rented a bus and took about 30+ people from Las Aldeas children's home to our church, Heme Aquí Señor, for a special Christmas service.
Most of our youth servant team was able to come as well to be a part of the festivities! (We all have our green or red T-shirts on)

A few of our youth leading some Christmas Carols
Some of our youth led a few of the Christmas carols in front of the church, with the worship team from our church. Many of the worship team have joined us to help with the music for Nochebuena this year! What a blessing they are for us!

Sonia & Erika doing a dance
 Two of our girls, sisters Sonia and Erika Canil, had a dance routine they performed to a Marcos Witt song, Es Navidad. They did a great job not having had a lot of time to practice!

A good crowd for our little church!
 We had a good turnout, as there were also skits and dances done by the Sunday school class, a duo on guitars that sang several songs for us, and a choral group that did a mini-cantata that was very good!
Then a Christmas message from our Pastor Carlos Suárez.

Our group was able to provide some Christmas Baskets for the church to give to the two men who volunteer every week to watch the cars outside.
We brought a couple of the baskets we had made earlier in the week for the church to give to the guards who are there every single Sunday, they work all week then volunteer their time on Sunday, every Sunday!

We closed with everyone up front singing Silent Night.
 Then after all the performances were done, we had the entire congregation come forward into a large circle and we sang Noche de Paz (Silent Night) together.

We finished outside in the parking lot with a lunch for everyone!
Then we all went down to the parking lot where a tasty lunch was waiting for everyone! We spent some time eating and visiting, then loaded all of our people back on the bus and headed for home!

We closed out the day watching our beloved Seahawks absolutely dismantle the 49ers!
What a GREAT day!

Galletas y Adornos! - Cookies & Decorations!

Saturday the 22nd of Dec. was our day of making cookies and decorations for Nochebuena! (Christmas Eve)
This is an all day event at our house and a favorite day for all of our youth. 
We have a blast while doing a ton of work.
Yes, making well over a 1,000 cookies is a TON of work!

Just started and already flour all over
 Sandi is in charge of the cookie making process, although we have many girls that have helped for several years now and are a big help to Sandi.
One of our long time youth, Erika, is in charge of the decorations. She has a ton of talent for arts and crafts stuff.
And me....well, I am in charge of....of....well some say I cause trouble, 
but actually I help keep everyone going.... I try to keep the energy up..... 
keep them entertained..... I like to throw flour....

Leaving boys in charge of cookies - bad idea :)
 We had about 24 helpers this day and in the end they made somewhere over 1,100 cookies. We ended up with 975 decorated cookies for Nochebuena and were around 200 cookies broken and or eaten!

All worked really hard and had fun too!
 They made about 2/3 of the cookies before I went and got yummy dobladas for lunch. Then finished the rest of the cookies and frosting them after lunch!

Frosting a few of the 1,100+ cookies!

Makes for a colorful foto
 Somehow we always end up with a flour fight....not sure how that happens ;)
Even little Elizabeth got into the fun!

Even Elizabeth got into a flour fight!
rollin' in the dough
Our worship team frosting cookies
While many were making cookies (and getting flour all over the house) several others were in the living room making decorations to adorn Casita Benjamin.
Our Erika has been in charge of decorations the past 2 years and she does a GREAT job! 
She made lists of what we needed and helped go buy materials ahead of time as well as designed and made prototypes of several of the decorations.

Our living room became a decoration factory!
 There were hanging decorations, stars with painted glittery pine cones etc.

What looks like a mess turned into beautiful things!
 There were table decorations, hand made roses, snowmen, and lots of creative things!

Erika, our decorations boss with some of her snowman creations!
 After the cookies and decorations were done, and the house was cleaned up (sort of) we all settled down in the living room and watched the movie A Christmas Carol. Not the old original, but a new remake.
By the time it was done, all were tired but full of the joy that comes from doing work for others.

21 December 2012

Nochebuena - it begins!

It has begun! The preparations have been under way for Nochebuena for quite awhile, and now we are into the busy time of many activities related to and leading up to Nochebuena.
Basically what we do each year is a huge outreach on Christmas Eve in Zona 3, for families that live on the edge of the largest landfill dump in Central America.
It is a extremely poor, densely populated, gang infested, dangerous and spiritually dark area.
We offer an afternoon of hope and love, sharing Jesus with the people there.
We begin singing Christmas carols out in the street, then have an evangelical message also out in the street.
Then we enter Casita Benjamín for a devotional with the adults and games and the Christmas story for the kids. Then everyone gets dinner, all the kids get a wrapped gift, and each family receives a 'Canasta de Víveres'. This is a basket filled with basic goods.

Practicing Christmas carols
But, it is a LOT of work to prepare that begins in November! We form a servant team of youth we work with, and enlisted several members of the worship team from our church to help with music.
We have practices at our house for Christmas carols etc.
We also have a few outings to buy over 200 gifts for kids, more outings to buy all of the goods needed for the baskets etc. Our house gets rather full until Christmas!

Wrapping over 220+ gifts!
We then have an all day activity at our house to wrap all of the gifts, and make all of the baskets! We had 27 helpers and it took 12 pizzas to feed everyone this year! After the work we practiced singing some, then watched a movie together!

Where ever you can find space...using the whole house!
Our youth really do a great job, work hard and have lots of fun!

Some of the 70 'Canastas de Víveres' (baskets of basic goods) we made!

Willy & Nestor wrapping some canastas

A few of the finished canastas!
We also take an evening to visit Casa Kairos. This is a home near the largest public hospital for children with cancer and their families. Similar to a Ronald McDonald house on a budget.
These are poor families from far away that need to come here for treatment, some of whom stay for years.

Singing Carols at Casa Kairos
We visit and sing carols with them, pray with them, and just hang out and visit for awhile.

David playing with one of the kids
We still have more activities yet to come before Christmas Eve actually arrives.

A wonderful time of worship and prayer with the families at Kairos
The 22nd we will have another all day event at our house with all of the youth. We will make lots of decorations to put up in Casita Benjamin on the 24th. We will also make approximately 1,000 of Sandi's Christmas cookies!
Then on the 23rd I have a bus rented and we will take all who want to go from Las Aldeas Children's home to our church for a Christmas service and lunch! Our youth will lead some of the singing!

Relaxing after singing with a few of our youth!
Then on the 24th, our bus will return to our house to load all of the baskets, gifts, decorations, us etc and we will go pick up our youth helpers and then head for Zona 3! We will get there and decorate the place, set up a sound system outside and prepare for the people!
About 3:30 we will begin with singing in the street. Last year we had 250+ people enter for the dinner etc.
This year we have a quota of 200 for the dinner and have already filled our quota with families that have received tickets. But we expect many more to participate out in the street and hear a Gospel message.
Please keep all of these things lifted up in prayer.
That God is already preparing hearts for His message, that some will be touched and surrender to His love and hope.
Pray also for us, and our servant team, that we may be examples of His love and instruments to proclaim His message.

Check back here for more updates and photos after the events happen!