Christmas 2017

Happy Christmas everyone! We hope that your week has been filled with warmth and love, that you have been able to spend it with loved ones and celebrate the joy of this season.

It has been a huge week here on the mission and we can’t wait to share with you all the wonder and excitement that we have enjoyed. Of course this weeks news starts with a cold starry filled night on Christmas Eve…

Our church decorated with lights and a manger.

Our Christmas Eve service was filled to capacity, with lots of great music, a short message about Christmas and a chance to remember the true meaning of this very special time of year.

Rick on guitar and Katie on keys.

No Christmas Eve service is complete without carol singing.

It was a packed house.

Santoshi lighting the advent candle.

Afterwards, everyone in attendance was invited to come to Christmas Eve dinner. It was an intimate, delicious chance to share a special meal with 200 members of our sprawling family. Lots of older boys and girls returned this year which always adds another layer to the enthusiasm in the room.

Christmas Eve Dinner.

Many old faces returned this year.

After the dishes were washed, it was time to cue the music for our annual Christmas Eve Disco party. This year, we opted to host the dance extravaganza outside for the first time, allowing the kids to rip it up under the lights on the covered walkway. For those who were not in the ripping mood, there was always a quiet place by the fire to spend time with friends.

The after-party went right through to welcome in Christmas Day.

Some chose to enjoy the warmth of the living room.

As the music faded into the night and the children nestled into their beds, the Christmas elves got to work, preparing the surprises for morning. All across the mission, from the hostels to the Shipway house, children awoke on Christmas morning to begin the unwrapping process. If wonder and excitement could be bottled and used to power the Mission, our electricity troubles would be over!

A quite nursery living room on Christmas morning -soon to be a whirling hive of excitement.

Indro opening his present as others look on in anticipation.

The Shipway boys opening their early morning gifts.

Afterwards it was time to play, with children of all ages breaking their new gifts in. Even simple gifts resulted in great fun, when a little imagination is added to the games. It really is fun to watch the joy that new toys can bring.

The boys with their remote control cars ready for a race!

Nursery boys launching a new toy car.

Shivani raising the roof with her toy microphone!

Priyanshi and her pair of Christmas binoculars.

…seems we have more gifts! These ones are for after brunch.

Kamal burried in presents.

Cynthia beaming with joy!

For our three newest members, Shivam, Manisha and Niyati, this was an extra special Christmas because it was their very first. What a treat it was to share the magic of our celebration with the wide eyes of these wonder-filled children.

Shivam’s first Christmas was almost too much for him.

Manisha could not be more excited!

Niyati was so excited that every one of these presents was for her!
(or so she hoped)

When the last of the wrapping paper was unwrapped, it was time for some picnics in the afternoon. The jungle is always a bit of an adventure and a great way to run around to release some of the Christmas energy. One of the favorite pastimes is to collect beros, a small pale orange berry that are a bit of an acquired taste. Bland, chalky, sour and fermented are just a few of the words many have used to describe these little wild treats that our kids just cant seem to get enough of. Those who were less than interested in the berries could relax by the river, try to catch fish or generally just splash around.

Picking beros in the jungle.

You have to watch for thorns while picking these little morsels.

Even at 4 years old Niyati can navigate the most prickly of bero bushes.

Amos catching baby fish in the river.

Christmas Night saw a raging bonfire that lit up a starry sky with a million sparks. Bonfires, big and small, have become something of a nightly tradition around the property from the big boys hostel to the mango orchard. Each time they are lit, these fires are a chance to sit and unwind with friends, soaking up the heat as another chilly evening settles in. On Christmas day, our fire was a magic end to a celebration filled day, and another reminder of how much we have to be thankful for.

 

Bonfires have been a regular occurrence this week.

A small fire our in the jungle with the Hostel Boys.

Roasting chicken over the open fire.

Roasting marshmallows and making s’mores.

A huge bonfire in the mango orchard.

2018-01-18T09:56:28+00:00

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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