Happy Christmas!

Christmas is a special time here on the Mission. Not only do we see the return of many old friends and family members, including old farm children now living off on their own, but we get to celebrate once again the birth of Jesus, a miracle that inspires and renews our faith each year at this time.

This note is coming in a day late on account of all the activity, not just here but around the world. Rather than put another message in your inbox, we decided to wait until after the festivities have settled down a bit. In this spirit, consider this an after-Christmas treat.

Jumping the gun a bit, here are the Shipway boys in their new super heroes suits.

Traditions run deep here at the Mission and we have a series of familiar steps that make up the Christmas dance we do here each year. The celebration really begins with a Christmas eve service, and this year we had a full house. The sounds of singing filled the chilly Banbasa air, and all were invited to for dinner after the worship service.

By Rick’s count, around 150 guests made our Christmas Eve dinner a festive affair with lots of excited energy, especially from the overflowing Big Boy’s table that had been out caroling the night before.

Just a few of our hungry guests at our Christmas Eve dinner.

Some of our older boys back to visit.

After all the plates were cleaned up, the annual disco was set up in the church house for a celebration of a different sort where kids young and old got together to dance the night away, braving the laser lights, the smoke machine and the rocking beats. The party goes on until midnight when everyone wishes one another “Merry Christmas!” before drifting off to bed.

Raju and Shane are serious about their disco.

A little wider view of the late-night party. It’s still early in the night so the dance floor still has some room to move.

Christmas Day has no official wake up time. It’s one of the only days of the year that doesn’t start with loud speaker music and a clanging breakfast bell. Brunch isn’t until ten so everyone can sleep in. But the nursery kids wake up at the crack of dawn, like children all over the world, to see what’s waiting for them under the tree.

It was a joyous morning complete with stockings, too many sweets, great gifts chosen by Katie for each child and even a present hunt in the mango orchard that had all the nursery kids scrambling to find their gift. One by one, the children found stuffed animals hidden behind trees and they were overjoyed. Sheetal loved her little princess dog and named her Lea. Cynthia squeezed the stuffing out of her pink bear. And Kevin held up his stuffed cow with pride. “I’ve always wanted a cow!” he shouted. “I dreamed I had a pet cow and now I have one!” Who knew?

Katie teaching Santoshi how to set the combination lock on her new pencil box.

Sheetal and Princess Lea.

The joy of Christmas!

All nursery kids and their new beloved softies.

Relaxing after the unwrapping.

Brunch saw another wonderful packed house, as well as more table gifts passed out by Clifton and Priscilla and treat bags for everyone to carry home. This was followed by trips to the jungle, late night bonfires, and plenty of time to play or simply hang out with friends. All in all, it was a fantastic chance to slow down, come together, and enjoy some time as a family.

Clifton giving Jessica her gift.

Never a bad time to pose for a group shot. Catherine, one of our older girls, is the tall one in the middle.


Priscilla handing Hopie her gift.

Enjoying Christmas Day brunch.

A very happy April on an afternoon trip to the jungle.

Before Christmas ends, we’d like to send a special thanks to everyone who pitched in with our Christmas campaign this year. With all of the stress the currency change-over has created here in India, along with added expense this time of year always presents, we were and are so honored to have the support of so many of you, not just with money but with prayers and good wishes. To the sponsors to bought jackets for their sponsor children this year…to the individuals who purchased special meals for the whole mission…to all of our friends and extended family around the world, we say many thanks and we hope you all had a very happy Christmas!


About the Author:

Clifton is the grandson of Maxton D. Strong the founder of The GSAM. In 2004 at 19 years old he moved out from Australia to India with his parents to continue on his grandfathers work. Today he is working as the Deputy Director of the orphanage and the Chairman of the Maxton Strong School. He is married to Priscilla, a former child of the mission and together they have 3 sons.

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