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 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.