I have to admit I have not been doing a very fine job of keeping everyone up to date lately. I missed several calls lately, I finally was able to open my email today and found 22 emails awaiting-not all from my mother either :) , and I obviously haven't updated here recently either. So I thought I would send everyone a Christmas note.
As many of you know this is my first Christmas away from home, I have spent much of my Christmas breaks in San Marcos before but have always made it home form Christmas, but this year I am a little far away for the quick drive home. It is a little sad, for one this December has been an eventful one, I missed my little (giant) brother's 20th birthday- so officially now mom has no teenagers left, Sean was commissioned and graduated a few days ago, and in a few short days it will be Christmas eve and day.
One thing I have missed about the Christmases I am used to is singing the Christmas carols and hymns at church, and it being cold for Christmas- despite living in Texas the last ten years this is the hottest Christmas I have ever had, but all of those things aside Peru has its Christmas traditions and the reason for Christmas never changes no matter what continent, country, hemisphere or season you find yourself in, the celebration of Christ Jesus our Savior. So along with the giant Christmas trees at the malls, or the scarcely lit town squares you find in the middle of them all the scene of the nativity of Christ's birth. I was at the mall in Trujillo with Auden and Wendy about a month ago and I was standing with there almost 3 year old daughter in front of the 2 1/2 story Christmas tree and the 4 foot tall Mary ad Joseph and the empty manger, I asked her if she wanted to go stand with daddy or stay here, and she says. "No, stay Jesus." So we stayed with Jesus while we waited for her mom to finish. She was your Linus from a Charlie Brown's Christmas who knows what Christmas is all about after you sort through the cloud of Christmas commercialism and our 2 1/2 story Christmas trees.
Christmas here brings lots of mixed emotions for different kids at the house. Some remember what Christmas was like last year and all the years before with their family, and they suddenly find themselves not having a chocolatada with them. Others are tired of being pitied at Christmas time, and I can see where they are coming from. It is nice to have people do things for you, especially if you are in need, and it is nice to get a toy rather than socks and underwear every once in a while, but it is also nice for people to care more than once a year. There are a bunch of schools, banks, and other organizations that want to do things for the kids this time of year, and it is good and following Christ's commands to care for his kiddos, but He calls us to care for them year round, ever year, to form relationships with them, to teach and guide them. So, I want to encourage you if there is something you do this Christmas season as a volunteer or charitable giving, I challenge you to continue, get involved with the organization year round and show the people you love that Christ loves them all year long not just for a season.
As for the mixed emotions of the kids a lot of them are truly joyful too. I mean who doesn't love getting to drink chocolate and eat cakes and candies every other day? Which is the tradition here. If you are going to celebrate Christmas you have a Chocolatada. Which is drinking hot chocolate, eating Panneton, and most of the time presents are involved somehow whether it be a raffle or everyone gets one. So far the kids have had four and there is one tomorrow and of course there will be one on Christmas eve at all the houses. Today was mine- which was different than most. Over the last month I have been compiling gifts for the kids in my house. I pulled out some of my money from my bank account- my first time to use the ATM here, and I did some shopping! I just really wanted to do something for the kids and wanted to get them something that they truly want but don't necessarily need, cause getting gifts is cool but getting something you actually wanted is even better. So today we gathered in the comedor and I told them how my family does Christmas, but since I wasn't with my family they could step in. So the kids took turns picking a gift, reading the name and passing them out, and one by one they opened them showed everyone sometimes there was shouting and a few pictures may have been taken. But it was fun, and yes Christmas is about Jesus but the suspense of what is in those packages and finally getting to open them is a gift from God too :). Bruce (who had also contributed funds to my gift fund) told me after that I was like a super shopper and did really well. I replied agreeing with my skills and then he told me, "one day you are going to make a man very happy but very broke." After dinner we watched a movie and had hot chocolate and oreos to end the night with a bang.
As far as the real Christmas eve and day, the kids are getting split up into different houses of the staff and such after lunch on the 24th and spend the night at the houses and spend Christmas day there as well. I will be at Wendy's house helping there and I am excited about all the food talk, but we have decided that we are not going to hold to Peruvian tradition and wait until midnight to eat dinner cause that is just crazy, but we will watch Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer, and A Charlie Brown's Christmas!
So for all of you I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, please sing some Christmas carols for me, eat all the amazing goodies for me, and share the love of Jesus with someone this Christmas, and the following year. You can be praying for our kids for peace in their little hearts this Christmas, and for the coming summer. For a lot of the kids the official time they were supposed to stay here is over, but it has been on hold for the sake of their school year, because here to get credit for the year you have to have started from the very beginning at that school which eliminates the ability to transfer kids out in the middle of the year. So, in the new year there should be a lot of court happenings with the kids and decisions being made etc, which will be complicated and confusing, and difficult for some of the kids. So have a Merry Christmas and I cannot wait to ring in the New Year with my mom and my little brother cause they will be here in PERU!!!!!