Merry Christmas… We hope you are enjoying the Christmas season: mince pies, Christmas carol services, nativities, watching ‘The Holiday’ warm fires and cozy evenings.
However, it is almost summer here in Cochabamba and it is hot (about 25 degrees most days but sometimes up to 30). It is the beginning of rainy season too, so there are lots of lovely flowers in bloom. We arrived back on the 4th December after our stay in the UK. We have been trying to ease back in gently to the drama and activities, but we do seem to have been very busy straight away.
The political situation is currently calm, with a temporary President calling for new elections in March/ April next year. Many people have been effected by the three week blockades, but transport and life has returned to normal for now.
The boys at Cometa and Camino were so pleased to see us. There have been a couple of boys who’ve been given early release and we are trying to find a way to get in touch with them. One young person, Gabriel, who we’ve nicknamed California gave us a call this week and we are meeting up with him on Monday. We hope to be able to find out where he lives and put him in touch with a pastor in his neighbourhood who can help him to find some work experience in the New Year.
We only had two sessions to finish in our twelve week drama course, so we managed to squish those into December and we are able to present certificates to about 24 young people. Each person will get a certificate outlining the course, a printed T shirt, all their work and a discipleship booklet designed for teenagers asking questions about their identity in God. Wish we could take photos of the presentation but the rules don’t allow us to take cameras into Cometa.
Christmas here in Bolivia has gained a bit more of a Western edge in the past few years. We see an elaborate mismatch of lights twirled around the palm trees and various nativity scenes with cartoon characters… Imagine Olaf the snowman with baby Jesus and the Grinch standing around a Coca Cola train! Most families will wait until Christmas Eve to buy a gift for someone in the family and they eat a spicy chicken and pork soup at midnight on Christmas Eve followed by a type of Panatone with chocolate milk. We will celebrate with our church family on the 23rd December with a ‘drama extravaganza’ and have a quiet relaxing day on the 25th. Will be thinking of you all as you enjoy your yummy turkey and pigs in blankets watching repeats of the Downton Christmas special.
On Tuesday we helped run a special Christmas party for the girls at Mosjo Yan, which is a girls refuge we worked at a few years ago. The volunteers were hosting a tea party for them at the mission guesthouse (the only place we have found a good Christmas tree!). We presented some short drama sketches, which they loved and we played some silly Christmas games, like dressing up whilst passing a balloon along the line and drawing picture on each other’s backs. These are all girls who have been victims of abuse from family members and are in the home for their own protection. It literally breaks your heart to see them and hear their stories. One girl, who is now over 18, came back as a helper and recognised us from a few years ago. We are looking to start volunteering there in the new year.