The Christmas season in Perú is in full swing, much as it would be at home. The traffic is busier, the crowds of people at shops and markets are bigger, Christmas lights and trees and decorations are everywhere, the weather is getting hotter (not 42 degrees like at home), and Lesley is in the thick of musical items.
Lesley helped to organise the Area Office senior missionaries into a Christmas Choir. We have been practising for several weeks and the last couple of weeks has been the highlight of our performances. We have a wonderful group of singers who, despite being English speaking, are fluent in Spanish Christmas Carols, all in four part harmony. We have been heavily booked at the Missionary Training Centre (MTC) Christmas Devotional; the Area Presidency Christmas Devotional beamed to all five countries in the Area; the local ward Christmas party, and the special Christmas service at church today. We look forward to carolling in our neighbourhood on Christmas Eve this week. Considering that we are all away from home and our families and our normal Christmas traditions, singing together has really helped us feel the Christmas Spirit.
Lesley has also been busy with the two other doctors’ wives in a number of service activities in recent weeks: sewing one hundred Botas de Navidad (Christmas Stockings) for the missionaries in the MTC; purchasing and wrapping gifts for a local orphanage; making “snappy cammies” or t-shirt inserts for sister missionaries (no-she did not actually sew, Lesley did all the snappy bits); and putting together small Christmas gift bags for a local branch up in the mountains….the “three amigas” have been pretty busy.
Amongst all this Lesley also had her end of year concert for her piano students. 18 of her students from 5-15 years old performed on the night in front of camera wielding proud parents and grandparents. Not bad for only having had lessons for less than three months. The highlight of the night was all of them singing “Christmas Where the Gum Trees Grow”, that they learned in English with Lesley over recent weeks, actions and all. They even had the action of wiping sweat from her brow. That was probably appropriate in Australia over the last week! She was in her element.
Last Monday night we had an opportunity to head to the southern part of Lima to see a horse show of the famous Peruvian Paso horses, with their unique gait. Even the foals instinctively display it, without falling flat on their faces by tripping over their own feet. It was a great show with a small group and a beautiful setting for a dinner. Craig got up on a horse, whilst Lesley was invited up to dance a traditional dance before the group, without tripping over her own feet and falling flat on her face. Despite being good at organising performances she did not enjoy being the centre of attention.
In the midst of all of this Marley, our youngest daughter, and her friend Lachlan arrived in Lima after travelling in Colombia for a couple of weeks. She has gone to great lengths to point out that this holiday was planned long before we came to Lima, but we are grateful that they stopped by on their way to Machu Pichu near Cusco. They will join us again for Christmas. They are very adventurous and are having a great time. They looked like , and smelt like, seasoned backpackers!
As we head into this first Christmas season away from our family and friends we find that we miss lots of things, even things we didn’t think we would! As we pause to reflect on the birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ we realize that it is our love for Him and our desire to serve Him that finds us here in Lima serving the wonderful missionaries and the people here in this part of the world. We have been amazed at the different nativities that we have seen, from huge Christmas displays to tiny little ceramics. Many of them do not have the baby Jesus in them yet. He is placed in the middle on Christmas Day, making Him the focus of the celebration. Away from home and the hustle and bustle of a normal Christmas has allowed us to focus more on that first gift given by a loving Father to all of His children. The video at this link helped us to remember that https://youtu.be/uzjFEMmM0Xs