Here's an overview of how my I spread the Christmas cheer for all to hear:
- During the weeks leading up to Christmas, we (the volunteers) put together "bultos" for the families at both locales. [As a requirement to be a part of the CMT, families need to fulfill certain obligations; such as saving X amount of dollars, attendance in classes, volunteering in the "commedor" (cafeteria) for meals, among other things. When these requirements have been completed, they are rewarded with receiving a "bulto".] These giant bags contained items of clothing for each family member as well as some pairs of shoes, some toys, etc (all donations from visitors). The weekend before Christmas, we got to hand them out to the families and it was a very rewarding experience - the smiles on their faces were so genuine you would think you were handing them a million dollars. Goodness me it was just so wonderful to see how the little/simple things in life are truly what matter.
|Giving the Proaño family their goody-bag!|
- Christmas here was a bit different from being in Wisco. First off, it was 80 degrees and sunny. Secondly, I attended and sang at church, not once, not twice, not even three times but FOUR [Christmas Eve - English mass and then Julia, Robin and I went to go sing at midnight mass about 20ish minutes away and it was SO very fun. Christmas Day - one mass at La Marin and one mass at Cotocollao where we sang with our Adult Ed. students]! Third, many of the second graders made their First Communion - the cutest thing I have ever seen! It was a beautiful sight to behold - all my little ones dressed up to the nines, with family all around them helping them celebrate! Lastly, it was different because all the excitement was actually about Jesus Christ being born...not about Santa coming and bringing gifts...which was incredible to witness. Many of the people that I serve are extremely poor and yet they are so rich in their faith. *After the youngsters' Christmas concert, they received gifts and I am not exaggerating/kidding about this: 4 year-olds went up to get their wrapped gift and walked calmly back to their seats and just sat there. They didn't rip open the paper to see what they got, they just sat there and smiled at the shiny paper, completely content with their lives. It was such a crazy and eye-opening sight. I am 22 years old and I still get amped about gifts and rip open the paper as soon as I can! ...I think I have a lot to learn from my 4 year-old compadres...
|The whole famjam at the Gringo mass on Christmas Eve|
|Marlon receiving his First Communion.|
|Heidy and myself after Christmas Day mass.|
|Michael and Erika as Joseph & Mary during the little ones' Christmas concert. Couldn't you just die from their cuteness?!|
|Ernie, Reuben, Baxter, Colin and myself a bit loco in the coco after decorating the house for the holidays!|
- My parents' Christmas prezzie to me was to GO HOME! Although it was only for 6 days, I was so happy to be with my family...and to be at Mars (*disclaimer: for those of you who don't know, when I say "Mars" I mean my aunt and uncle's house up in Minocqua, WI...not the planet)...and to see SNOW! I was able to surprise my cousin, Morgan [which I think was a major success] as well as my high school friends so that was also pretty darn sweet. My family means the world to me, so I was very fortunate to be able to spend what time I did have with them...and eating all the good things!
|Shocking. We ARE related!|
So, even though it was a bit strange to not be spending the holiday season with my family (aka Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and of course the Wallner Family Christmas Party!), it was an amazing experience to share with the families of the CMT. I hope that the holiday season treated y'all well and that this new year will bring many good things to you and yours!
|PS - A message from me to you! Wishing you love and happiness always.|