It was definitely a Christmas season that I’ll never forget. It was more different than anything I’ve experienced, or even dreamed I would be doing. I have to be honest and say that I would rather have passed it with my family in our warm home in my pj’s but I think in hindsight it was worth it. I am after all a missionary, and I couldn’t help but think that this season is all about giving, especially when our contacts need it most.
Let’s look at the biggest events for Geremías and I this holiday season:
We planted potatoes with a family for the church. They had the idea that Geremías and I could plant potatoes in their field and then we could invite everyone to harvest the potatoes and eat them as a community of brothers and sisters. The only catch was that we had to do all the work. We tilled with pick axes one Friday from about 7:00AM to 4:00PM. Then the next Saturday, in about an hour the two of us and two of them planted the seeds. Now we’re just waiting for the potatoes to grow so we can harvest them, make an oven out of the ground, and eat them with the other church plants!
I also killed and ate a chicken that day.
We did a “chocolatada.” This same family always does a “hot chocolate” for the public. But this year they wanted to do it with us so that we “could add brothers and sisters to the church.” Perfectly fine idea for me. On a Sunday morning in Salcedo at about 10:00AM we put kids Christmas music on for about an hour as the kids started coming. It was a hit! About 70 kids came and I got 10 names of parents to visit in their houses and share the news of Christ.
We handed out clothes/gifts to families. To those 10 families I told that we could come by, we gave out clothes/household accessories for the parents and coloring kits for the kid on Christmas Eve. So even if they had nothing, they could at least have something this holiday season. Even greater that that, we were able to share the great news that the Savior was born in Bethlehem and he contains the gift that keeps giving. From that “chocolatada” we have been able to arrange visits for 3 new people to study the Bible with them.
On Christmas Eve, we went to a very needy family of the church in Rinconada. There are 4 of them: a grandmother, mother, a little 11 year old girl, and an 8 year old boy. They literally have nothing because the father abandoned them and the mother doesn’t have a job, and the grandmother just underwent surgery. It was the idea of Chad and Amanda to give out gift baskets and we chose this family. We entered their house and surprised them with a basket of rice, sugar, oil, fruitcake, yogurt, and other goodies. They were so taken back and couldn’t even thank us with words. I was so glad to be able to bless this family with something this Christmas season.
We did a Christmas Day service. Although few people came, it was good to be able to be with the few people from Salcedo that did come. Geremías and I split the sermon and we preached on the good news of the birth of Christ. We sung Christmas hymns and ate traditional Peruvian Christmas food afterwards (awkward fig salad, rice, maize and mayo salad, peaches…) It was a real “Peruvian Christmas” for me, not just a “Christmas in Peru” where I could’ve easily escaped to an American Christmas inside this country.
Salcedo grows. As a result of almost all of this work in Salcedo, we’ve seen a turning of the tables in Salcedo. We’ve got a good group of people coming to the services (possibly a direct result of the pain we had to endure for many, many months before.) I remember walking in Salcedo one day this month and saying to God, “Why? Why are you blessing us? What have we done to deserve this? and why now?” Well I don’t think I will ever know the exact reason why God decides what he decides for any situation, but I know I should thank him for whatever he decides. I don’t know what the future for this church is, but I can tell you that you need to pray that God’s will be done in my life to see the will of this church carried out.
Until next time, check out this song I heard on the radio here!