International Ministries

Santa Goes to Church

December 23, 2001 Journal

We had a great Christmas Eve worship service with all the kids. I was touched that many of our former students, having nowhere else to go, came back to celebrate with us. One even brought his wife and son. They came “home for the holidays.” After the service “Papai Noel” visited. He actually arrived early and sat through the service in his red suit and white beard—it was about 90 degrees in the church. It was nice having Santa Claus worship with us.

Papai Noel gave each child one sack of presents containing: a bag of potato chips, a roll of Oreo type cookies and some chocolates, a bottle of shampoo, some other toiletries and a small toy—either a stuffed animal, or a plastic toy car (the kind of toy you might pick up in the grocery store) or the older girls got a simple watch and older boys got a pair of sunglasses donated to us by a company.

Then, at about 11:30 p.m. we went to the cafeteria for a “Ceia” or “late dinner.” It’s amazing how watermelons, grapes, mangos, pineapples and apples can be arranged and carved into majestically beautiful centerpieces. Of course, the beauty only lasted a few minutes before it was devoured by our kids. Our bakery classes made about 50 very special Panettone loaves decorated like Christmas trees. They were delicious. (Side note: a company, 3M, had also commissioned our baking class to make over 4,000 loaves of tiny sized Christmas breads—I’m not sure exactly how many--especially wrapped so that every child in an institution could receive a Panettone during the Christmas season. It was a great idea. Pay one institution to spread good will to another. And, it made our kids feel really good to be helping other kids.)

At midnight everyone kisses and shouts, “Merry Christmas!” just like we do for New Year’s. Our kids went to bed very, very happy.