This was our 5th Christmas to celebrate in Peru and over the years we have had to adjust to the different ways it is celebrated here. For one thing, it never FEELS like Christmas because summer vacation begins in December which also means December is usually one of the warmer months of the year. So, no white Christmases here. Christmas is celebrated here the 24th. A late dinner (beginning anywhere between 10PM-midnight) is served and fireworks across the city are shot off at midnight. Also, the Santa decorations that you see decorating houses either have Santa climbing a ladder or with a parachute. I guess since there aren't chimneys or snow there is no need for a sleigh.
In November, the church here held its third annual cookout for the children at the orphanage. We started by gathering together for singing and a time of worship. Then the kids were set free to play on the playground or the soccer field. While the kids played, several of us prepared lunch. At one point I stepped back just to watch as they laughed and served together. It was a special moment to witness and made me reflect on the Christian call to service. I could see four reasons why we serve coalesce in that one moment.
Continuing with this series on things that have helped me understand prayer better, I'd like to share some quotes from a sermon by Dr. Tim Mackie called "Psalms – The Language of Prayer Part 4: Praying Through Doubt" accessible on the Exploring My Strange Bible podcast.
This Christmas was our 4th here in Peru. Which also means it was our 4th Christmas away from family, away from our traditions, away from the cold that actually makes it feel like Christmas. I am still not used to Christmas being during the hottest time of the year. It just never really FEELS like Christmas.
As a small house church network we're trying to be more intentional about serving. Of all the things that make Jesus's followers recognizable, service should be at the top of the list. Several months ago we started going to a girls' home and a boys' home each week to help the kids with homework and start building relationships with them. I go to the boys' home in Characato each week and have slowly gotten to know the 17 boys who live there, from 8 to 17 years old. Because of that ongoing relationship, I was invited to go with them to camp at the beach for a week. It was an awesome, exhausting experience.
We have now lived in our current neighborhood for 2 years. In the past two years God has blessed us with some true friends and great neighbors. However, there were still some people that live on our street that we didn’t know yet! So that is why we decided to throw a block party and invite all of the neighbors.
Just over a year ago, our relationship with Renso and Paola, Camila and Nicholas grew from a casual greeting on the street to the beginning of friendship when we were invited to Renso’s birthday. Several months later, after more times spent in each others’ homes (think pizza nights, among other things), times of conversations regarding faith, vocation, and family, they approached us about getting together to read the Bible with their family. We took our time reading through the story of Jesus recorded in Mark, being confronted and challenged by Jesus’s teachings, love, and authority. You’ve gotten glimpses of this growing relationship.