Sorry to have been out of contact these last couple of days. Between looking for the magic recipe for Egg Nog and a boat load of parties, it has been a whirlwind for our family and our church. As a result, there has been no time for blogging, so I intend to give you a 3 in 1 recap. Before I get to that, to all of our faithful internet readership, we hope that you had an incredible time with family and friends during this wonderful time of the year, and we hope that the Lord would shower you with His affection and greater cognizance of His presence than ever before in your walk with Him in 2007!
The Obligatory Christmas Concert
This past Friday saw the stage debut of my oldest daughter Renae. She played the part of a tree. While not necessarily an actor's dream with regard to challenge, Renae did devote herself to learning "The Goose Is Getting Fat," an English Christmas diddy about Christmas Dinner Goose. Renae was a little taken aback when she saw that she was not the only Christmas tree, but like the fine trooper she is, she swallowed her pride and stood tall. There must be some unwritten rule though that most plays are performed in undersized venues in front of oversized crowds. Additionally, it must always be that your kid is in the last class to perform! Sorry...
An ironic aside here: Silent Night was the only song sung that resembled a tune about Jesus! That's ironic coming from a predominantly Catholic Country, and that I of all people would be missing the songs about Jesus tells me what a vacuum I am in.
I am very proud of Renae for how she has handled her short time of school here in Spain. She has been brave and strong in the face of quite a bit of change and instability. In the midst, she has won the approval and love of her teachers, who are quite taken with her. After her role was complete, we went and found her teachers and wished them a "Feliz Navidad" to which we received the typically kind "igualmente."
After the play was over, we drove over to our favorite Chinese restaurant, with Renae hardly aware that she was still dressed as a tree! Susanna, our usual waitress was impressed however!
Christmas Eve Service At Calvario De Jerez
The Big Night was finally here. The anticipation was killing us all! Our first Christmas Eve service in Spain! Normally we would not have an evening service, but it was decided that we would switch for this special night, "Nochebuena" to the Spaniards. The anticipation for the kids was an opportunity to sing "Our God Is So Big" and to participate in the church gift exchange. The anticipation for me was the intense feast that was being brought into the Church! In fact, in anticipation of incredible amounts of food, I decided to abstain from my normal dinner hour.
This proved to be a mistake, as I was unaware that we weren't going to be eating for quite some time! Oh well! I can add it to my "fasting" hours for the year! Seeing that there aren't many, I am grateful to use all that I have!
The night was a great opportunity to hang as a church and it was filled with the usual acoutrements of the Christmas Eve service. Pastor Carlos spoke from Isaiah to us about the coming of the Lord in human flesh. Yolee, Andre and Angel (current love interest of my daughter Renae!) shared some beautiful Christmas songs, one led by Angel who has really gained a nice singing voice! There were dramas, and songs from the Kids Ministry. Lela and Yolee did a did a beautiful rendition of "O Holy Night" and we ended the service portion.
But then came the food and fellowship. I actually don't remember chewing...And after that, it just got crazy! There were impressions, dance demonstrations, and a lot of laughs. A particularly funny moment came when Domingo was surprised by the Bee Gees' classic hit "You Should Be Dancing" instead of the "Sevillana" (traditional flamenco tune) that he was expecting. (Now, how did that happen!?) That, and the fact that I broke out some breakdance moves from the early 80's, made it particularly...ahem...memorable! Of course, there was also the gift exchange, where Caleb got his first gift of cologne! I'll save that story for another entry.
The party lasted until 2AM! It was an absolute blast! Mostly, it was such a joy to see such a celebration and a great love for one another and for the Lord. It was such an honor to be part of it.
Christmas Day...the short version!
After getting home at 2AM, early for most Spaniards on Nochebuena I'm told, we were beat! The kids did not wake up until 11AM! Breakfast at noon!? Yep, that was us! Not having a Christmas tree, we improvised and used Renae's costume from her concert. As you can see, we piled the presents on the couch, many of which were sent from our respective families, who shipped them weeks in advance providing the kids with the necessary temptations for the several days. Unlike their Father, they actually did pretty well facing the temptations. When I was their age, I all but X-rayed my gifts!
Then, believe it or not, it was time for another Church get together! The occasion was not for Christmas, but rather in honor of our Church's youngest member, who turned 2 on Christmas Day. Miqueas, Yolee's son had a "Puppy Christmas" and it was another occasion for fun and kicks...and did I mention: FOOD!!!
Miqueas had an awesome time, and our kids actually let him blow out his own candles, which was quite generous of them! Miqueas is a sweet little guy and we are blessed to be a small part of his life as well.
All in all, when all was said and done, we barely had any time to think about how much we missed certain aspects of being home with family. In fact, we almost didn't get a chance to call my parents! But what a wonderful thing about the family of God, that even when you are separated from all that makes this holiday season memorable, God allows His joy to be sensed from an entirely different group of people, who feel as close as a natural family. I thank God that He has done such a wonderful work of bonding here to make that sensation a possibility. No matter what happens from here, this Church will always be a precious group of friends and family to us. Only the love of God can do that.
Now, if we could only get that Egg Nog recipe right...
Blessings To The Friends Of Spain,