Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas in Guatemala

We hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and that you will all have a Happy New Year.

I hated that we didn´t get to send out and receive Christmas cards this year. Please keep us on the list. We promise to be more settled and able next year.

I would do a year end Christmas Post with details about everyone but I know you have all been following our lives this year via the blog.

I still dont know where my punctuation is located on this keyboard. It is an English keyboard programmed as a spanish one. So please excuse my lack of punctuation throughout this post.

We did have a great year and have been so blessed. We have had trials also but the blessings have made them worthwhile. It has been so fun to watch the kids learn and grow here in Guatemala. They have been humbled in their associations with so many that have so much less than we are accustomed. They have been learning Spanish. I hate when they correct mine but I am so glad that they are progressing so well. There is no better teacher than total immersion. Even little Gabby. Yesterday I asked her ¨Where is your jacket. She said casually with a shrug-- Saber. Which is slang for I dont know and dont really care. We have also been blessed to go on some adventures as a family that none of us will ever forget. We have many opportunities to serve others and share the gospel and it has been fun to watch the kids gain confidence through this. They are also learning first hand how to start and run a business and the challenges that come with that, but they are getting a great education through the process.

Our Christmas was a really great one. The kids and I had the challenge of trying to get presents for Nathan, since we are still totally dependent on him. I am scared to death to drive here. I have had to a couple of times and it was hard. The problem is, the longer I wait the harder it is to drive because I am not used to it. The people are crazy and aggresive drivers. There arnt lights where there should be and tons of motorcycles and bicyclists. It freaks me out because they are always too far in my lane. I will get it together eventually though and be more independent.

We really really missed all of you this year. It is not the same without our family and friends. We did have a family adopt us for Christmas this year and we will be spending New Years with them also. They speak very good English after only one year of studying. So not fair. But it is nice for me. They do have a rule that we have to speak Spanish part of the time though so I can practice.

In Guatemala the Christmas tradition is to celebrate on the 24th. They open gifts at midnight. So we started out the 24th by delivering food and gifts we had helped put together for some of the poor families in Rodolfos ward. He is the Bishop. As you can see in the pictures we had to walk through fields of dirt to get to the first house. It took us about 30 minutes. We took pictures inside the one room home that some members of the church are helping them build. It is not finished yet. We went to their home they live in now. I didnt take pictures because I didnt want to embarass them but they have card board walls and a tarp roof. I cant even imagine. The oldest daughter has a brand new baby. So sad. We ran out of time and werent able to go with them to the other families because Victor was throwing a party at the new almost finished YEAH house. The pics I took were in the dining room living room. The tile wasnt down yet. They covered the floor with pine needles. It smelled so good. The tradition here is to eat tamales for Christmas. Letty made them and they were so delicious. We also drank pounche. A drink similiar to apple cider but full of pieces of fruit you eat when you finish the drink. We met a lot of our soon to be neighbors and the kids made some friends. Victor built a fire out side and let off fireworks and the boys boxed with all the neighbor boys.

Then at 8 we headed back over to Rodolfo and Melvas for dinner. She made a turkey - her first ever. When I told her how we cook turkeys in the states she thought I was crazy and said it would be so dry with no flavor. She poured a marinade of mustard, pineapple juice and spices over it. Then stuffed olives and pineapple under the skin and inside and on top. It was sooo delicious. Then we did the nativity and played reindeer games that Xela made up and then sang some songs and at midnight let off fireworks and opened gifts from them to us and us to them. Then watched them open gifts and then cleaned up. We were soooo tired when we got home. Poor Ammon slept through half of the events he was so sleepy. It was super fun though.

Christmas morning we slept until 8 or 9 and opened gifts. We had a nice relaxed day. Nathan went and got Chinese for lunch. We wanted to go see a family movie but they were all in Spanish. We already saw the scrooge movie and Avatar in Spanish. Its fun to go as a family but would be better in English. The adult movies most time are English with Spanish subtitles which is nice for Nathan and I to go on dates.

The kids favorite gift is the kitten Santa brought. Her name is Angel and she is super sweet. She likes to play but doesnt hurt the kids. The only problem is she wont eat cat food. The family who had her before us couldnt afford cat food and fed her table food.

We really enjoyed the day and were able to reflect on the life of our Saviour Jesus Christ who died for our sins that we may live with him again someday. We are truly grateful for Him and His love for us. We have truly experienced his hand in our life throughout this year and look forward to seeing where he will guide us in the year to come.

I included outside pics of the new house. It is almost finished. I will do a house post soon. We should be moving in in the next few weeks. We will have hot water. Victor is puttin in a water heater. I cant believe it. I totally took hot water for granted my whole life. We will also have to get electic heaters for the house becaus it is super cold at night here. Our elevation is 600 feet above Colorado. It is warm in the day but at night we sleep in jackets with tons of blankets. It is ok now but Jan. and Feb are supposed to get colder.

Watch for the house post in the next few weeks.

The Thomas Family