First things first: the Christmas Day barbecue was a roaring success! After the traditional midnight-on-Christmas-Eve celebrations, over 30 friends staggered out of their beds and joined us in mid-afternoon for a couple of hours of beef and banter. If it were up to me alone, we'd make it an annual fixture. Amanda's not quite made her mind up on that one; please pray for a prompt decision on that, as the next one is a mere 51 weeks away.
By about 5:30pm, our last guests had left, the last plastic plates had been dumped, and the barbecue had been reduced to mere embers. Time, then, to continue the Christmas traditions by putting our feet up and enjoy a well-earned evening's rest.
Well, not quite. In fact, it was time to go to church.
You'll remember that on the afternoon of Christmas Eve, we had been due to have our big annual Christmas celebration service, an event for which around 100 different children and young people had put in weeks of preparation in terms of dance, singing and drama. Furthermore, an array of lights, tin foil and tinsel was on display; the hall had been well and truly decked. The stage, as it were, was set.
Until this happened.
From around noon on Sunday, well into the night, the heavens rained themselves dry. And Trinidad's geography means that it doesn't take the most prolonged of storms to turn the streets into rivers. Meaning that by as early as 2pm, with the church by now essentially reduced to an island, the WhatApp group was abuzz with concern for the service.
And so, we took two steps we've never taken before as a leadership. On the one hand, we called off the service. This would never have happened in the case of a usual Sunday morning, where we always manage to get a faithful core, come rain or shine. The difference here was that a whole host of children and parents with little church contact outside of the holiday Bible club ministry were due to attend. It takes the merest spit of rain to send people here running for their houses; they were hardly likely to make it out in these conditions.
|This was taken at the Foundation on the morning of Christmas Day, i.e.,|
some hours after the waters had begun to recede!
On the other hand, we postponed the service. Recognising the uniqueness of this service -- not only in terms of its overtly evangelistic focus, but also the huge time and effort that had gone into its preparation -- we felt we owed it to those involved to reschedule it and hope for better weather. And so we did, for 6pm on Christmas Day; which, to be fair, was harder on us than for most people, given that Christmas is effectively over by around 6am on the 25th here.
Still, after all the effort of the barbecue, we weren't exactly pining for two hours sat on our backsides in an overcrowded room. An Evening with John McClane this most certainly was not.
And yet, you know what? We wouldn't necessarily keep it as a permanent Christmas Day fixture. But while the Christmas Eve service usually serves as a nice little official launch to the annual celebrations, this was an equally special way to bring the curtain down. I think that for many believers, if we're honest, the 'spiritual' side of Christmas is pretty much over and done with by the time Great Aunt Agatha arrives, the Brussels sprouts are served and the crackers are, er, cracked. This way, before setting it aside for another year, we had the chance to come back to the very essence of it.
I also felt helped as I gave a short talk at the conclusion on Jesus being the Light of the world, to which people seemed very attentive; not bad, given the general exhaustion.
This weekend, like many other churches around the world, we'll have an event for New Year's Eve on Sunday night. Our thoughts then turn to Santa Cruz, where we're going for a few days on Tuesday morning for a short break with Amanda's mother, Selene. We will likely be travelling home next Saturday, meaning the first post of 2018 will likely have to wait a week.
Thanks to all of you for your prayerful support over these past 12 months. It was a joy to see so many of you earlier this year, and your prayers have certainly carried us as we have settled in here again since June, a transition that has not always been without its struggles. We look forward to sharing our lives and ministry with you again in 2018.
|Sam: meet train sets.|
- Pray for safe travels and a relaxing time in Santa Cruz this coming week.
- For a surprisingly wonderful, blessed experience on Christmas Day.
- For God's great faithfulness to us as a family in 2017. We have so much to be thankful for.
¡Que Dios les bendiga!
Craig & Amanda