Christmas… but not as we know it!

As 2020 comes to an end we are so glad that we can write a blog update. We know that many people are now living with new restrictions and disappointments, but still we have so much to be grateful for, so much to give thanks for, so much good news to share. 

We are grateful that everyday is a new opportunity to share the gospel message with someone, we can give thanks for the support and love we feel from each one of our team of supporters and there have been amazing glimmers of hope and joy in the people we have met this month. December is summer time here. Hot mornings and bright sunshine, followed by an instant power shower type of rain in the early afternoon and some magnificent thunder and lightning storms. You can never go far without your factor 50 and a brolly. 

Earlier this month we contacted all the young people we know to see if they would like to meet up for a ‘socially distanced outdoor chat’. We have been able to give many of them a box of dry goods and some Christmas goodies. Alongside the essentials some asked for simple things such as baby wipes, a football shirt, nappies, a wooden case for going into the army, a pair of leggings or a torch. One of our favourites, Wilfredo, said he needed nothing but our ‘friendship and love!’

Each young person has a different story to tell and it’s encouraging to hear them remember the lessons we taught them. One girl even told us that she’d been to a Christian camp last summer and heard a story which was just like her life… She asked us if we’d ever heard it – The Lost Son – she then went on to retell us the whole story as if we were hearing it for the first time.

Mosoj yan work
Since last month the girls have continued with Alpha via Zoom and we are facilitating the discussion. It has taken a while for the new girls to get to know us and there is often a nervous pause before they all start suggesting ideas and asking questions. The building work at the refuge is well underway. The window nets have been finished and the water reconnected. The supply tank is now painted and full to be used if we have unexpected water cuts. The girls wrote to say that it was the best Christmas present they could wish for! 

Prison Fellowship
Our friend named Juana is a lawyer and a volunteer who works with us. She also runs an organisation called the Prison fellowship, which we have been involved with this year. She asked if we could help with the Christmas program to deliver presents to the children whose parents are in the adult prison.

Due to the system here many people have to wait months in prison before seeing a judge. There is still a huge amount of corruption and people have to pay for their food and accommodation in prison. This often means that the families suffer extreme poverty. This week we went with the team to visit the families in their homes. It was both amazing and heartbreaking at the same time.

We went all over the city delivering gifts (like Santa Claus) in a taxi … which only had third and fourth gear! We wondered why the driver kept reversing and manoeuvring  around the corners every time he saw a hill…. It was so he could get a run up!

One family of seven lived in a single room, another lived in a dis-used quarry with no running water, one family had to ‘walk the plank’ to get to their room perched high above the city and another didn’t even know where they lived and could only say it was near a yellow bridge and some large tyres! Needless to say we didn’t manage to find that one and ended up meeting them on the hard shoulder of the dual carriageway. But it didn’t seem to matter. The kids were so happy with their gifts and delighted to have real hot chocolate and Panetone. 

At each house we sat and chatted and took turns praying and telling stories using the Bible cube. Then we presented one of our dramas and sang some songs. The mums and kids laughed at the “silly gringos making funny faces” but listened in awe to the message. There were many moments when we had to pinch ourselves and ask what are we doing here and how has God opened this door to give us the privilege of meeting these wonderful people. We are truly grateful for every opportunity to serve and help in this way. We know that we are doing this with your support and prayers and we are incredibly thankful. It is a difficult time for everyone with Covid-19 and new restrictions. We wish you a Merry Christmas from afar and hope that you and your family stay safe and healthy in the New Year. 
Visiting families with the team from the Prison Fellowship, many living in extreme poverty. This family of seven, lived in one room with no running water.
The kids loved their presents, wooden trains, blankets, dolls and even a Watford football shirt
The look on their faces!
We met this family on the hard shoulder after searching for their house for nearly an hour. She was so happy with her ballet dancing doll.
Little boys all over the world love train sets!
Its hard to know how someone feels when they are wearing a mask, but you can really see in his eyes how happy he was with his new football shirt.
We might have done this sketch 500 times, but we are always amazed at how it speaks to people… no words necessary.
Through-out this month we have met with a number of young people we have known for a while. A great opportunity to bless them with a box of goodies and catch up.
Some places we visited this month