December Mission News
Christmas in Argentina with Rev. Douglas Williams
In San Juan and Mendoza, Argentina, we are intentional about how we celebrate the Advent season and Christmas in worship, special church events and in our homes. We do a “Presbre” or Christmas pageant in which children from the Barrio take on the main roles including Mary, Joseph, angels and sheep.
In worship,we will light Advent candles. In San Juan, we have practiced the “Posada,” a tradition begun in the mid-1500s in Latin America, which involves gathering in front of the church and going Christmas caroling to neighbor businesses asking at each place if they have room for us to stay. We now take extra copies of our Christmas carols to share with folks in the shops who want to sing along, which, in the clinic waiting room, once involved about 40 people.
We do not do Christmas Eve service here because the tradition of the people is that family comes together the day before Christmas and celebrates with extended family/friends until midnight when there is a time of giving blessings to each person in the family. If a present is given, it is often very small and a symbolic gesture. Folks don't give presents as in the USA, but give something simple like a pair of socks or a new pen.
On the Dia of Reyes (Day of the Kings), simple presents are given to children when they wake up in the morning. This year, we have a number of immigrants from Venezuela participating in the community and we are being intentional about making sure each one has an invitation to someone's family gathering.
Personally, on Christmas day, I am able to Skype with my kids, sisters, and brother back in the USA. Feliz Navidad.
Christmas in Nepal with Katherine Parker
Christmas in Nepal is only recognized as a holiday for Christians, so it is an important festival for Nepali Christians to share with their neighbors and gain recognition in society. In Rukum (rural western Nepal), where I live, there is a large festival. The church has an open field between the hospital and market center ridges. We gather here for an all-day festival that includes telling the story of Christmas, songs, traditional and story dances, and a feast of curried chicken. Winter is dry and cold, especially inside our stone buildings, so it is wonderful to sit outside soaking up the sun and watching the program.
Nepali Christians have adopted carol singing as part of the Christmas season. Proselytizing door-to-door is prohibited in Nepal but anything done at one house is public to all neighbors so, the carol singing is usually led by the choir of youth leaders at homes of various church members.
It is difficult for many Christians to travel back to their hometowns to celebrate with their families as they do during the longer Nepali holidays of different religious/ethnic groups. I had taught the Rukum youth how to make paper snowflakes and it is exciting to still see them popping up in churches around the district. I will celebrate Christmas with my Rukum friends. Christmas ko subhakamana.
The Central District Missions Secretary is Kay Oliver.
The Conference Mission Chair is Rev. Beth Odor.