Here in Medellin it’s like the city is just holding its breath all year, until December comes around and the celebrating can begin. December is electric in the city. People go all out decorating the outside of their apartments and homes with lights. Many of the public squares have light displays. And while we haven’t been yet as we’re waiting for the crowds to lessen, the city has put lights up all along the river that runs through the city.
We have been invited to celebrate with friends, neighbors, ministry partners and it’s been a special couple of weeks. We had a Christmas party with pastors and their families that included decorating gingerbread houses and a yummy grilled lunch. We exchanged gifts, laughter and hugs.
We have been able to participate with some of the ways the local Covenant churches are serving their communities in this season. Julio helped serve with the Fuente de Salvacion church as they held an all day bazaar for over 350 people in a displaced community. People had donated clothing, toys, household goods, shoes, and it was all taken up into the community where people could come and shop for themselves and for a gift for someone else. They also had special activities for the kids during the bazaar and this Sunday the children from the church shared the message of Christmas through a creative drama and puppet show.
The children’s ministry leaders up in Esperanza de Vida Covenant Church have been working with around 50-70 kids on a weekly basis. Many come on their own or with friends to the church on Sunday morning to participate in the Sunday School classes. So the leaders planned a special Christmas celebration and the church members each sponsored a child to help create an unforgettable experience for the kids. There were games, signing, clowns, hot dogs, ice cream, a special Christmas message and gifts. Katie was able to help serve during the party and was again blown away by the dedication of these leaders and teachers.
At our home we have been observing advent with Scripture, candles, quiet reflection, as well as times around the table to laugh and share. On December 7th, people here celebrate La Noche de Velitas, where people go outside and light candles along their driveways or sidewalks or on their balconies as symbol of lighting the way for Mary and Joseph. It is a night of sharing in family and with neighbors. We made cookies to pass out and enjoyed the goodies like buñuelos and natilla that were shared with us.