Monday December 24, 2018

Luke 18:1 And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not loose heart.

Merry Christmas Eve! We got up at the normal time today for breakfast, and then there was a last minute stir of finishing up the decorations and preparing the food for this evening. The dining hall and worship area have even completely transformed; Katie has done an amazing job. The mission is filled with twinkling lights and paper decorations that make this place feel like Christmas is definitely here.

After the decorations were done, I joined some of the small girls for a wonderful treat…they have beautiful lemon trees around the property here and make an amazing snack. These lemons you literally peel them like a potato and just get the yellow rind off, then you cut them into pieces and sprinkle with either salt or sugar and top with chili or spicy chutney. This may be one of my favorite treats here. It is so tasty that my mouth is watering just thinking about them! Here are few pictures of Lisa trying to get another lemon down from the top of the tree by throwing a stick at the lemons in hopes of knocking one to the ground.

We enjoyed a beautiful service of carols, Anjali even played her flute, though you could barely hear her over the drums and the guitar, I know she sounded great! This was her first time ever playing in front of people, and she did this in front of 100 plus today! Lucia was also asked to light one of the Advent Candles and she was happy to accept this heavy responsibility to play with fire. The worship space was packed. Besides those that call The Farm home, children that have moved on to careers elsewhere came back to celebrate with their family and folks from the community came to celebrate the birth of Christ at this wonderful place here in Banbasa. Immediately following the worship service, the space was transformed into a dining hall and we all sat down to a beautiful meal together. It was such a wonderful Christmas experience.

After dinner, the nursery kids headed to their room for some movies, while the older kids danced all night in the worship hall. Anjali and I tried to join the party, but the music was just too loud for me. I did take some refuge in the Strong House in front of the fire, but I really wanted to be with my family (David and Lucia had gone to bed and Jeff was in the room with them). I found Anjali near the music and she asked if we could go back to the apartment; I was happy to oblige. Anjali ended up watching a movie with Jeff and I and then she headed off to bed, ready for Christmas to come in a few short hours.

Today my prayers were answered. When we started to plan this journey and as we saw the pieces all fall together, I prayed often that we would be able to spend Christmas here. I prayed that Christmas, even on the other side of the world would be a memorable experience that would remind us that this day is more than just gifts, it is about the birth of our Savior. And today, I am witnessing first hand this prayer being answered.

From our family to yours, Merry Christmas Eve to everyone.


Sunday December 23, 2018

Proverbs 14:29 Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.

Christmas is almost here and there is so much excitement and activity happening on the mission. We had a short worship service this morning followed by a video call with Gramma and Papa Hayes. It was so nice to see family today. However, despite the fact that Christmas Eve is tomorrow, today was still the Sabbath and therefore a day of rest. I spent the afternoon blogging and then sitting in front of the fireplace in the Strong House visiting with some of our new friends.

Our peaceful afternoon was very quickly interrupted with girls running into the Strong House screaming that there was a snake in their bathroom. This got Uncle Rick (and many other onlookers, including me) up and running. The funny part about this story is that the older girls have been saying for a couple weeks now that there was a snake in their toilet, but there was nothing that could be done besides dumping buckets of water into them with the hope of flushing it into the pipes. But now it was out of the toilet and hanging out in their bathroom. Between Uncle Rick and Clifton, they were quick to subdue and remove the snake from the bathroom and return it back to its home in the jungle and river, but not before a few pictures to capture the moment! I think the girls are pretty happy to have this guy out of their bathroom!

(This guy was not a dangerous snake, just a harmless water snake. I can assure you this snake was nicely returned to his home and was not harmed and probably very happy to be out of the girls bathroom.)

Now this excitement is quite hard to top, but helping the small girls (ages 12-16) decorate the outside of the hostel with lights was a close second. Now this sounds like it should be fairly easy, but we had to cut a lock and re-wire a few strands of lights in order to make this happen; it was all quite exciting. But all of the effort was definitely worth seeing the happy faces of these beautiful girls.

It was a beautiful night and I am so excited to celebrate the birth of Christ with all of these children and new friends. Merry Christmas Eve Eve from Banbasa, India.