This christmas time we were able to add to the positive lessons learnt from last year and enjoy the celebrations of the birth of Christ, with the added bonus of a number of firsts. The most exciting of which was being able to celebrate Isaiah’s first christmas. Being 10 months old he was very alert to all that was going on around him and enjoyed ripping off shiny wrapping paper, investigating it from all angles and then typically enjoyed the boxes that gifts came in more than the actual presents themselves! This form of present opening was painfully slow for Alana who desperately wanted to help him rip it all off quickly, but she did good at being patient and then eventually enjoyed his presents with him.
One of the things we felt lacked in our celebrations last year was how to bring Jesus back into the centre of all of our celebrations. Through a random search on the internet we stumbled across the Jesse Tree, which fitted exactly with what we were looking for and so became the first of a new tradition we hope to carry out each year. In a nut shell the Jesse tree takes an overview of the bible and connects it all with the arrival of Jesus and his birth, a different key bible story is read for each day of advent with a special ornament/picture added to the tree each day that represents the story of the day.
Another first was to have family here celebrating Christmas with us. Over the three weeks of their visit we enjoyed a good time with Ed’s parents, showing them around a few more new places and taking them along to see Alana in her end of year kinder performance.
With having visitors we indulged in another first and took a weeks holiday right before Christmas down in the wine producing region of Tarija in the south of the country on the Argentinian border. Despite arriving in a torrential rain storm, circumnavigating a strike and having a puncture on the back road in the middle of nowhere in the heat of the day with no shade, we had a pleasant restful time enjoying the warmer, cleaner air with more O2 available to breath, and the pleasant green surroundings and wildlife. We even took a morning doing one of the famous wine tours visiting three very distinct wine producers which of course meant sampling the products too :o)
Christmas day provided another first by going to church and actually hearing about Christmas. The focus of the message was upon 4 key people within the christmas story, Mary, Elizabeth (Luke 1:44), Simeon (Luke 2:28) and Anna (Luke 2:38) whose response to Christ was that of pure adoration, a response that we too should have putting Jesus at the centre and the focus of our celebrations, praising him for coming in order to restore our relationship with God.
Now this may sound a little odd to most of you who are accustomed to a big christmas build up, however here in Bolivia the Evangelical Church has gone to the extreme of trying to distance themselves from the Catholic Church and rarely mention let alone celebrate the key events of the Christian faith such as Easter and Christmas.
As this christmas now passes we look forward to what 2012 holds for us as a family in the challenges, the blessings and the times of growing and learning together.