Mom's Blog

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Christmas Program

Well, I opened my big mouth and suggested we have a Christmas Program at church with the children presenting the story of Christmas. It seems that in the last few years the church did not have much of a program, not wanting to get entangled with all the hoopla of Christmas trees, the mistaken idea of worshiping the baby Jesus, etc. The pastor, his wife and I talked, and after the conversation, I realized that I had convinced them and that probably I was the one they were looking to for direction. Oops! But I plunged in.

I tranlated a beautiful Peterson song, "Just a Manger in the Shadow of a Cross" . I taught it to the children along with "Away in a Manger" and another Latin American Carol. We got some children together to act the parts, found enough robes, clothes, shawls, to make some costumes and rehearsed. Well, we didn't rehearse much. I went to one rehearsal in which I was the only one there besides the pastor's wife. One Sunday it rained all day, and so that ruined a pracitce....etc.....

The pastor also decided I should teach the congregation some Christmas Carols and so every Sunday for a month, we sang two of the four carols we had decided on. The ladies also wanted to sing. So we got together for a song in the feminine range.

Well, Dec. 23 was the night. The service was to begin at 7:00 and the children to be there at 6:30. Here we joke about "hora Boliviana" meaning we start when we are ready. So at 8:00 with very few in the church and fewer children than all the costumes we had..... I said let's start; maybe the music will get them here! By 8:30 our sanctuary we nicely full and we had a lovely time. One of the our six year old shepherds didn't come, so we quickly dressed a 3-year old in the huge costume. She was the cutest shepherd. Looked exactly like a Precious Moments figurine and walked down the aisle and into position with great pomp! Mary and Joseph, a brother and sister, started out just fine, Joseph even put his arm lovingly around Mary while escorting her down the aisle as he had been instructed, but the harmony didn't last. Once on stage they had a spat about where Mary was supposed to sit. We laughed , the children sang their hearts out and we were all proud of them. We ended the evening singing by candle light and with guitar, "Silent Night".

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Handel's Messiah

I'm sure our kids can remember the many holiday concerts and events we made them get dressed up and go with us every Christmas season. From the Boar's Head Festival at Bethlehem Lutheran, to the Saginaw Choral Society concerts to productions of The Christmas Carol or Amahl and the Night Visitors at Pit and Balcony, each year we tried to make one evening something very special during this time. Tonight was that night for Daniel and I. We headed to the Cathedral on the main plaza for a Christmas concert featuring the Youth Symphony from Plan 3 Mil, one of the poorer areas of Santa Cruz, and combined choirs from both the Catholic and Evangelical universities. We were not disappointed. The full orchestra of young people aged 9 - 23 performed Dvorak and Saint Saens. With the choral of over 75 voices Vivaldi and Handel's Messiah were performed in the packed cathdral. The applause after the Hallelujah Chorus was so intense that they performed that piece again and then closed the program with a beautiful rendition of Silent Night, which in Spanish is titled, Noche de Paz (night of peace). Bolivia right now needs peace and hopefully that can be achieved. But in spite of all the political turmoil it was pure pleasure to hear young people perform such beautiful pieces of music. Young people that are making great sacrifices to learn music and others who believe enough in them to give them that opportunity. Of course, we had to top the evening off with a stop at Picolos for some speciality cake and empanadas accompanied with rich cafe con leche. And as a consequence , that caffeine is keeping me up and it's almost 2:00 in the morning. But hey, I can sleep in in the morning!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Fluttering beauty

I have a sun burned neck. After several days of rain and overcast skies the sun (and heat) finally showed itself in full glory yesterday. I have been wanting to photograph the butterflies in our yard for a long time. We have fluttering wings scampering all through our flower beds: orange, yellow, white, even monarchs quite frequently. I remember that as kids whenever we'd find a butterfly we'd run to the house for a jar. They were beautiful to me then, but not as frequent and abundant as we have here. I'm enclosing a few snapshots we were able to get. Like restless three-year olds, they don't stay still, their wings constantly fluttering, so it was hard to get good shots
It has been a tough last couple of weeks. Have had some news from loved ones that has been unsettling, and have had some minor nusances with the house: we found termites had burrowed into a doorframe on Thursday - must have been only a couple of days (those two days I didn't do housework due to my Christmas art project?) but they had already chisled away a good portion. We were able to capture a couple of the culprits, Daniel checked on the internet and then headed straight to the gardening shop for treatment. We had the entire house fumigated. The next day one of our drains was clogged. Upon insepction of the septic system Daniel found that the tree out front had extended roots into the system. So the tree has to go. Day three: upon inspecting the attic, Daniel discovered that we had broken tiles that had to be dealt with immediately - the rainy season has begun.

I shouldn't be surprised. Last week our Bible study was about suffering from I. Peter: why it is common to ALL, how it serves to strenthen us, and how God can use it to bring Glory to his name. Thank God for butterflies and flowers and loving friends who hold each other up and remind us of God's grace.
I quote from a portion of I. Peter that we are studying: "Humble yourselves under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour., Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoring the same kind of suffering. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory , after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast."

Enjoy God's grace as seen in the beauty of small things like butterflies.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Paper and lace

With the Christmas season here, I have been busy and have been trying to be creative. I have been helping with the children's Christmas preparations; we will be having a service on the evening of the 23rd with the children singing and dramatizing the Christmas story using some music I have put together. There is a song, A Manger in the Shadow of a Cross ,that I have translated and we will be presenting as our final piece. I am also teaching our congregation some Christmas carols as part of our worship time on Sunday. So I'm busy. Yesterday our ladies group had their meeting. We made angels out of lace. Thanks to Heather, I found a great site on the internet with crafts and so I found these cute angels to make out of lace, using a button for the face (if any of you readers know of good craft sites, please let me know). The ladies each made two, one for themselves and one for the Christmas tree we will be decorating as part of next Sunday's service.

I also found a craft for simple paper angels which the children will make next Sunday. But then I got to thinking, why not make an entire nativity scene out of paper? So I shopped for unique paper, used all the creative juices I could muster, put aside housework for two days, and cluttered the dining room table with ribbon and paper until I had it finished.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Holiday Invitations

Sunday we had Ruben and Adrian and families over for fresh fish cooked on the grill. It was a great time. In the afternoon the men talked politicis (of course) and the women and teens played RummyCube. We laughed and challenged each other.
We have decided to invite each 'portion' of the Centellas family over each Sunday before Christmas. This Sunday we are inviting all of Jorge's family which makes for 11 people. With our dining and patio tables, that's just the right number. Lea is having her family from Washington, DC for the holidays so that will also be a fun time. We were always good friends with her family back in the days of Cochabamba.
Invitations are a very important part of the holiday season.
I'd like to remind everyone that God also has sent out an invitation. In fact, that is what this season is about:
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did NOT send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already." There is a banquet being prepared in Heaven and the invitation still stands. However, it is a RSVP to which we must personally respond.
I've been attending a Bible study on the book of Daniel and I can't help but wonder if this is the last year that invitation will be availble. Things in the Middle East and around the world seem to point to the return of the King. This time He comes, not as a gentle savior born in a manger, but as the King of Kings who WILL reign. This I believe firmly and hope and pray that you do too, if not that you would give it careful consideration from God's own word.
May your celebration of the holidays that surround us, reflect the magesty and dignity of our eternal hope.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

When the going gets tough, just go fishing!

Many of you readers are probably concerned about the political situation here in Bolivia. Yes, we are too, but the unrest along with the inflation and a myriad of political situations that are creating havoc here are becoming all too common. Not to say they are not serious. I often comment to people that the situation today is similar to the situation we found ourselves in when we left the country 22 years ago. But back then we had 3 children to raise and a 4th on the way. Now it's just us and we can keep our heads above water much more easily.
So what to do? Just go fishing! It has been hot, too hot to play raquetball as Daniel usually does on Saturday mornings, and besides he had the opportunity to plan tennis in the cook of the evening. So we grabbed out poles and headed out 3o minutes to the town of Warnes to a great fishing site. Yes, manmade, but a very lovely setting with landscaping and flowers and quaint little 'thatched huts' for personalized fishing - and very huge fish. No cost to fish, but you pay market price if you decide to keep any you catch. The last time we went we caught one big enough for a meal for the two of us.

Well this time, they were really biting! We got there early, in fact were the only ones at the place.

In less than an hour we had 7 huge 'pacu'. Several were so big, they broke our lines and got away. But a good thing becuase we couldn't have paid for all of them! My mom and dad would have loved to see me battle away with such huge fish, trying to reel them in and land them on shore. We selected one for the staff to cook for us while we finished up. Fresh fish grilled with parsely, garlic and lemon! A great lunch. The other six fish we had gutted out and wrapped in ice. These we brought home weighing a total of 8 kilos which is aprox. 17 1/2 pounds of fish! I sqeezed them into the refrig; we called several family members to come over tomorrow afternoon to help us enjoy the catch. We'll fire up the grill and cook them whole! One fish serves two people!

You will be happy to know, that "yes" i held the fish! but only after they were fully dead! we forgot our camera so had to wait to take pictures here at home. You can see how large they are.