Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Chavos and Chavas

This past week we had the opportunity to have both the Chavos (teen boys) and the Chavas (teen girls) over to our house for dinner on two different nights.  Both nights we served spaghetti, green beans, cucumbers, and cantaloupe.

The boys enjoyed a movie and we had drumming contests on our new game, Jam Band, which is like Rockband but with all Christian music.  Leandro took two turns on the drums and in his second turn, placed first place with over 20,000 points.  Gerardo had fun singing Everything Glorious by the David Crowder Band.  We were very impressed with his singing since it was all in English.  All of the boys went home with a prize and the most popular prize was a big jar of hair gel.

The girls also enjoyed a movie and playing on the drums.  We had a drawing for prizes and found out that the body lotion was very popular but we only had two bottles.  The next most popular things were packages of cookies.  Everyone went home with a prize.

For each group we cooked about two and a half kilos of spaghetti which is about 5.5 pounds, five cans of green beans, 10 cucumbers, three cantaloupes and we also had bread.  We knew teens could eat a lot and we were glad to be able to have everyone eat as much as they wanted.  After dinner, there were homemade cookies which everyone enjoyed also.  Some of the boys were still commenting today about how good the spaghetti was.  We are very grateful for these times to make memories with the teens here at Esperanza Viva. 

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (Lots of Pictures)

Well, Christmas has passed and with it has come some very precious memories.  We did things a little different this year.  Because Christmas day is spent at Esperanza Viva with all the kids and staff, we let the kids open their presents on Christmas Eve.  The night before, after the kids went to bed, we put the presents under the tree.  When the kids woke up they saw the presents, but they had to go the whole day just looking at them. 

Christmas Eve fun began in the afternoon with goodies before dinner.  Who doesn't want dessert first?

Our Christmas Eve meal.  The kids were surprised with Martinelli's Sparkling Cider.  That is a holiday tradition for us and we didn't have it for Thanksgiving, since Costco sells it, we had to have it for Christmas.

One of our traditional dishes is strawberry salad.  I couldn't find the same ingredients here in Puebla, so I improvised.  I will need to keep trying because it looked wonderful but just wasn't the same.  We took it out for the chavos (teen boys) a couple nights later, and they loved it!

Sitting down for Christmas Eve Dinner.

After dinner and all the dishes were cleaned up, the kids were allowed to open their presents.
Erin's big present was a hamster.  She certainly is an animal person.  She had to leave a hamster behind in Oregon and was begging for one for Christmas.  Fortunately, one of the local markets had many of them.  She was very happy and we even got her on video, screaming when she opened it.

Jonathan's big present was a video game he wanted.  He was very excited also but he didn't scream.

Because of a generous Christmas gift for the kids, we were able to get a game similar to Rockband.  The kids have wanted Rockband for a while, but we don't like the music on it.  So after some research, we found one that works on the computer but uses the same instruments as Rockband and it plays all Christian music.  Thank you to our wonderful friend.  You know who you are.  :o)

Christmas morning, the kids still had their stockings to open.

The first thing we did on Christmas morning with the kids at Esperanza Viva was to bring them out to the land, the future site of The Living Hope Community.  It was the first time that they had seen the walls up around the land or the bodega (warehouse/storage and furture site of the laundry/shop/ and other uses).  They were all very excited to see it.  What a blessing, and a promised dream coming true. 

Getting off the buses.

Waiting at the front gates so that everyone could go in at the same time.

Here is the bodega.

Then all the way to the far end. 

Once back at the orphange, Jerry had some of the kids do a pull up contest. 

We had a wonderful Christmas lunch of chicken, rice, beans and bread.  This was quite a treat for everyone.  There was also ice cream for dessert.  Kate told us that it was the first time in the seven years that she has been here that they have had a big mid-day lunch for Christmas.  Someone generously donated everything.  Later during the bonfire, we also had ham, spaghetti and bread.

Our family - Erin, Jim, Jonathan and Gail

Some of the guys.  They thought lunch was good.

Erin having fun taking a picture of us together.

After lunch, the games began.  In this one, we paired up in teams of one adult to one child with ten of each on a team.  We had to blow up a balloon, run it down to the person at the end, who had on oversized clothes, and that person had to put the balloon into their clothes.  The team with the most balloons after a certain amount of time, won.  I think we came in second.  Here is a picture of Jim and Josiah running back.

Here's Selina, putting the balloon in for our team.

Next it was tug-of-war with the Americans against the Mexicans.  Jim says it was the Mexican-American war.  Our team won and so the other side said we needed to do it again.  While we were winning again, Juana joined in on the Mexican side, then everyone came running in to join.  We won that one also.  It was so much fun.

Once that was over, they set up the lunch tent with ping-pong, air hockey, pool, and foosball.
Here is Erin playing ping-long with Isaiah.

The jumping castle was also put up.  This is a favorite of many of the kids.
Here's Erin with some of the kids.

Jim, Jessica and Kevin. Jessica and Kevin are siblings.

Later, there was a bonfire and everyone was served hot cocoa.  That was also a huge treat.

Here's Jonathan with Kevin and Isaiah.

During the bonfire, Fernando lead us in worship.  What a great day with great memories.

The bonfire.

We thank the Lord for a wonderful Christmas and hope that you and your family were blessed also. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Cookies and Goodies

The last two days, Erin and I have been making cookies and other goodies. 
It is really beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. 

Erin making Peanut Butter Kiss cookies.

These turned out perfect!

Muddy Buddies or Puppy Chow, depending on what you know them as.

Can I try one now?

Chocolate Chip cookies

Chocolate No-Bake cookies

The Snickerdoodles didn't turn out too well at first.  I ended up having to add a lot of flour because of the high altitude, but once we did, they turned out very well.

After adding about two extra cups of flour.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Fun Times

Yesterday, we went to see the movie Avitar.  La Viña (the ministry school at Esperanza Viva) did a fund raiser to raise funds for the the Living Hope Community.  They sold all of the tickets so Esperanza Viva had the whole theater.  They sold tickets to the community also which made the community more aware of what Esperanza Viva is and what the plans are for the move out to the land and that the money was going to build a permanent home for them. The movie was very good and had some awesome special effects.  It was in 3-D and was the best 3-D movie we had ever seen. 

Jonathan and Erin in front of a snowman display at the entrance to the mall.

Erin with another snowman.

Erin and Leysi, one of her friends from La Viña.

Waiting to enter the movie theater.

Jim and Jonathan waiting.

The crowd in the movie theater.

After the movie, we were walking out of the mall and there was a petting zoo that had been set up.
 Of course, Erin had to stop and see the bunnies, chicks, duckings, and a lamb.  It was pretty interesting to see a petting zoo in a vacant store area of the mall.

In the evening we went to the 14th graduation for La Viña.  It was a wonderful time of sharing the accomplishments of the fine young men and women who attended the four month intensive ministry school.

Here is Joshua talking to the graduates.

This is from one of the performances/dances that some of the La Viña students did.

Erin with Naomi.  I was trying out the black and white setting on our camera.

Erin and Leysi, one of the La Viña students.

Erin, Leysi and some of her family.

So, we had a very busy day yesterday but a very good day.  The kids are now counting the days until Christmas.  Only five more days.  This year, we will be celebrating a bit different.  We are doing our celebrations on Christmas Eve.  Although we have always done our big Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve, this will be the first year that we will be opening all our presents on Christmas Eve also.  On Christmas morning, the kids will have stockings to open and we will have our traditional breakfast of breakfast burritos, then we will be going in to Esperanza Viva and will spend Christmas day with the kids and staff.  We are really looking forward to the week.

Today, we had a wonderful Christmas service at church.  We sang a couple of familiar songs, in Spanish of course.  The kids did some dances to Christmas music and then all the kids from Esperanza Viva received gifts from people who sponsored them for Christmas gifts.  After church we went with two other families for a very special treat.  We went to Chili's for lunch.  It was such a nice lunch and we enjoyed the fellowship and the food.

Here is a picture of Jonathan and Erin with the Nielsen kids.

Molly and Lydiah.  Lydiah has adopted me as a sort of grandma.  She is just a few months younger than our little grandaughter, Brooklyn. 

We started our meal with a bottomless plate of chips and salsa.  Now, I know we live in Mexico and that should be no big thing, but you just don't get chips and salsa here like in the states.  They were so good and the fact that it was a bottomless plate of them, made them even better.

We found out that Ryan has many talents.  The forks are being held in the air by two toothpicks.  Everyone was quite amazed.  Rene was able to make it work also.  It's amazing what you do while waiting for food.  The other things that made the meal so good was that we had the most amazing waitress.  She was so helpful, especially for a large group.  We had 12 people there.