Monthly Archives: December 2018
The day finally arrived, the Nativity of our Lord, the birthday of Jesus. Our kids have been preparing all month for this special occasion of our salvation. First, it was preparing the food and decorations, then practice for the plays and the choir.
The choir and Christmas pageant was ready and, as the children gathered, the excitement filled the air.
The story of Birth of Jesus was told, and the children listened intently.
The kids prepared the story of the Good Samaritan and a modern-day version of welcoming the stranger and caring for one another.
After, there was some singing and dancing…
Then it was time for Christmas dinner, Christmas cookies, and soda.
All were so anxious for the moment when St. Nick would arrive with his gifts for all.
We are so grateful to the many people who helped us make this day a glorious celebration…our benefactors, Sisters, and friends. Thank you, Sr. Victoria, for sharing this Christmas with us here in Haiti. Thanks to Eric and his girls, Abby and Kaitlyn, for being with us to celebrate the real meaning of Christmas. And thanks to our teens, our youth group here in the Felician Mission, who gave of themselves the whole day in service.
After the kids left, the teens had their Christmas dinner and helped to clean up a bit. We ended this glorious day with the Celebration of the Eucharist with Fr. Dickenson our newly-ordained priest.
For days in advance, we prepared the traditional foods and anxiously awaited the moment when the first star, that appears in the eastern sky on Christmas Eve. For that was when the feast to commemorate the birth of the Christ Child began. Our little community gathered around the table.
There is always a thin layer of hay under the white tablecloth in memory of the Godchild in the manger. Before sitting down at the table, everyone broke the traditional wafer, or Oplatek and exchanged good wishes for health, wealth and happiness in the New Year. The Oplatek is a thin, unleavened wafer similar to the altar bread in the Roman Catholic Church. It is stamped with the figures of the Godchild, the blessed Mary, and the holy angels. The wafer is known as the bread of love…
The dinner itself differs from other evening meals in that the number of courses is fixed at seven, nine or eleven. A lighted candle in the windows symbolizes the hope that the Godchild, in the form of a stranger, may come to share the Wigilia and an extra place is set at the table for the unexpected guest. This belief stems from the ancient Polish adage, “A guest in the home is God in the home.”
The Wigilia is a meatless meal, no doubt the result of a long-time Church mandate that a strict fast and abstinence be observed on this day before Christmas. Although the Church laws have been revised and permit meat to be eaten on this day, the traditional meal remains meatless. Our traditional Wigilia menu included mushroom soup, boiled fried fish, pierogi, barszcz with little dumplings, dried fruit compote, poppyseed cake and pirnik , platek, and fruit salad.
After the meal gifts were shared with our guests.
As we ponder this holy scene of the crib and the cross, we place you before the saving grace and forgiveness of God with us in His presence.
Christmas and the cross together make grace complete and available to those who will embrace the Lord and His radical message of love and forgiveness. When really and truly embraced, it is totally life-changing and leaves no one the same as it found them. We see that here day after day. Grace forgives, sets you free, destroys addictions, removes performance as a means of approval and acceptance, and allows each and every disciple to be truly themselves. It also offers to every believer the opportunity to become involved in changing the world through personal relationship as we “seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10) which was Jesus’ reason for being born and why He had to be “full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14).
May you see God’s presence from the crib to the cross in your life and find new meaning that nothing is impossible with God, who is with us! Thank you for your support and prayers and know that you are remembered here daily in our prayers.
Merry Christmas to all, and have a holy, happy, and healthy 2019!
We welcome Eric and his two daughters, Abby and Kaitlyn, who are here to help us with our Christmas celebration tomorrow!
On Friday, December 21, that is exactly what our teens did–prepared the way for the Lord! There is so much garbage around our streets, and we wanted to make a difference with the way the area looked for the celebration of the Nativity of the Lord. We wanted to make a straight way for the Lord’s coming by the Cathedral Church, which is around the corner from us, so we cleaned up the garbage as best we could. Then signs were made to be placed in areas where people seem to throw their garbage. We even got our neighbors to help.
“Do not throw garbage; God is watching you.”
Afterwards, the teens decorated the tree in the Center…ready the Way for the Lord!
On Friday, December 14, Sr. Victoria Indyk returned to Jacmel to spend the remaining days of Advent and the joy of Christmas with us. Her mission this week has been teaching a class at the School of Nursing in Jacmel.
On Monday, December 17, we were blessed to have another way in which God calls us to prepare the way for the Lord. Since we have been living in our new mission home, monthly we receive young mothers with their babies in need of diapers, milk, and clothing, as well as help when their baby is sick. It is so important for us to get to know these mothers and their situations, to be in relationship with them in the best way we can. All of them are single moms. This is not unusual among the poor. They move from place to place to find some place to live and try to be a provider for their child. It is a cycle that is difficult to break. We wanted to share the Christmas spirit with them, so we decided to to give the gift of clean water and let them know that God is here in our midst.
The arrival of our mothers with their babies.
Madame Omani and Melinda lead the formation and instruction of the water buckets and filters.
We even had a little day care with the help of our volunteers…
The women learned how to clean filters.
There were Christmas bags for babies and peanut butter sandwiches for all.
We have put up our decorations and have made ready for the Lord…We can only turn our lights on when we have electricity from the city; but when we do, it is beautiful.
Our own live outside tree…
On the porch…
Our living room Christmas tree…
Just love those Minions!