We spent this holiday season getting to know Paraguayans' traditions surrounding Christmas and the New Year. They do celebrate the season very differently than we normally celebrated in the States. To begin, the temperatures this time of year are soaring, with most days reaching into the 100's. Also, gifts are traditionally given to children on Day of the Kings in the first week of January, instead of on Christmas Day. The season also involves several nights of very late dinners (at 11PM or midnight) and a whole lot of firecrackers.
We celebrated in the children's home with a special dinner on Christmas Eve where each child received their Christmas presents. Thanks to donations from some friends from Peerless Road Church in Tennessee, we were able to buy wonderful Christmas presents for every child.
Opening presents at the Christmas banquet.
More donations from here in Paraguay provided the special gifts for Day of the Kings.
Alejandra with her Day of the Kings gift.
Needless to say, the kids had quite a wonderful holiday season and are enjoying their vacation from school. The coming school year will begin in February, and the kids are already asking for prayer for their studies for the new school year. The children are learning to take all their needs to the Lord in prayer and each Sunday it is a joy to hear them open up and bring more and more of their worries and needs to the Lord.
In December, we celebrated two birthdays here in the home. Nilda, our eldest, turned 14 years old. She will be going into the seventh grade this coming year and lives in House 1 with her four younger siblings. Nilda is extremely responsible. She is a very hard worker, both in school and around the house. She plans to begin studying English intensively and it is our dream that she would be able to attend college in the states one day.
Nilda at her outdoor birthday party.
Mili, one of our youngest, also had a December birthday. She turned 5. Mili is just plain adorable and lives in House 3 with her four older siblings. She will be in Kindergarten this coming year. She loves animals and playing with her tea set. Mili has a contagious smile and is so much fun to watch.
Mili- yes, she is adorable!
Another important piece of news is the arrival of Heather Lutz. Heather is a friend of ours from our home church in Tennessee and has come to Paraguay to serve in the children's home for six months. She has been involved in several short-term mission trips in Latin America and already speaks some Spanish. She is learning more vocabulary daily. This week she started her English classes with the children in the home and they are so excited to be studying with her. She is also assisting in the planning of Sunday services and other special activities with the children. When in the states, Heather worked in an after school program for at-risk children and has worked for several years in the children's ministry at church. With all of this experience, she is bringing so many new ideas to what we are doing here and I am so thankful that the Lord has sent her to be with us! Because we had problems with our well pump, we have been without water nearly the whole time Heather has been visiting. For that reason, we have not been taking many pictures (not being able to bathe well does not allow for the best photo opportunities)! She has handled it like a pro, and today, finally, our water has returned. In the future, you will be sure to see pictures of her working with the kids.
We are excited for what the Lord has in store for this new year. Our goal for this coming year is to be able to open three additional homes. We are still receiving multiple calls/visits each week concerning children that need a home. The need in Paraguay for children's homes is great. If you are interested in supporting one of our children's homes and in helping us to reach more of these precious children with the love of Christ and the security of a family, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.