Christmas in Brazil is definitely a different experience. So much of that 'Christmas feeling' I realize is wrapped up in the shopping, the snow, the crazy lineups and parking lots. I haven't had that here.
Instead, we've picked mangoes, played 'futebol' (foocheebol) and hosted a childrens' Christmas party. I asked one of the girls here how Christmas is for her at her house. She had paused, and said 'so so' and I asked 'why?' She went on to explain there's usually a lot of fighting and hurtful things said to each other.
This is the case for a lot of the kids here, Christmas isn't always a happy time and for many there are no gifts on Christmas morning.
So, to try and bring a joy and a light into an otherwise not so happy time, we have three Christmas events, a childrens Christmas party with games, and food and yes presents. A night event for the youth and a neighbourhood churrasco (BBQ) with lots of mean, rice, pop and salad.
On Friday afternoon, we held the childrens's party. Deanna gave a message before we started the festivities about gifts, that we don't have to work for a gift, that we would never turn down a gift and that that's what Jesus is to us, a free gift, no strings attached all we have to do is take it.
We had just over 100 kids attend, we had several games, and then drew numbers for the prizes. As a number was called and a child had won a gift they ran so fast I couldn't get a clear photo of them to reclaim their prize. The girl pictured below said to me after she got her gift, "I'm so happy, I was afraid I wasn't going to get one". Her face was radiant with joy.
That's my wish for all of you this Christmas, no matter what life is handing you these days, that you would receive the gift, no strings attached, and that your faces would be radiant with joy.
Merry Christmas everyone near and far. May the peace of the saviour fill you today and everyday.