Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Sorry, I've been a little behind on updating, but I'm hoping to do a monthly update soon. I've been in Chontal since December 15, and will be leaving on Monday to go to Mindo and then to Puerto Quito on Wednesday. I'm hoping to visit a lot of folks in Puerto Quito, including students and teachers at the high school, as well as the children in the village Santa Cecilia who will be receiving their first Holy Communion. I'm aiming to make it to Quevedo and Santo Domingo in January as well, so it'll be a busy month. I'll be living in a new, small house owned by the Franciscan sisters, close neighbors with a local family that is full of kids, so I'm hoping to survive that! There's the possibility of visiting US lay missioners in the eastern part of the country too, but that isn't finalized yet.
In Chontal, I had the joy of supporting the local school in a lot of ways for Christmas. I brought down a Santa outfit that I bought with a donation from an anonymous friend. The school had their annual Christmas program and celebration party, and Papa Noel made an appearance. I had brought some fake snow as well, so that got worked into the presentation.
The kids hear all know about Papa Noel, but it is the first experience of him coming to Chontal. I asked a young girl about a week beforehand, "Is Papa Noel coming this year?" She looked down sadly and lowered her voice and said, "Papa Noel never comes here." Well, that all changed! It was just great to give both the kids and all the parents too a big lift, that they are important and special to God, especially in this Christmas in the midst of the crisis of the landslides, a crisis that doesn't yet have a long-term solution.
I've been visiting with people most affected by the landslides who received funds from our fundraiser, and am hoping to share a video soon, it's uploading now to Youtube.
Here's a video of the Santa presentation. I tell the kids that it's from Jesus that I get all my generosity - and my joy. Then I start with the ho-ho-ho laughing and everyone applauds, it was great! Afterwards, I told the people I would ask God if he would give us some snow from the North Pole, but I needed the faith of the kids. You can hear the "Sii"s when I ask them if they beleived God could do that. Then I ask them for a louder response, you can hear the "SIIIIII". What's funny is that afterwards, a lot of people ask me how I did the snow thing. I tell them, the faith of the kids :) .....