A Caribbean Christmas in Pics

DSC_0787Our second Caribbean Christmas season is coming to an end, and we cherish the memories with mixed emotions! We did our best to recreate some old traditions and we count our blessings for the new ones that were born. There’s nothing like being surrounded by family around the holidays, but perhaps the solitude made the quiet times with our family of four just that much sweeter, the gratitude for our Dominican brothers and sisters that much deeper, and the message of Christ’s love that we bring to the people of this town that much more powerful! It was a special time for us, and we hope you will enjoy as we share the moments we cherish the most:
10. Give Thanks. We were blessed to have Trevor’s parents, brother and future-sister-in-law, and Nana come to visit for Thanksgiving. Last year, we shared Thanksgiving with our Dominican neighbors, and we continued the tradition this year. Mimi and Pawpaw even got to serve at Doulos in Luke and Emily’s classrooms.

9. Ballet. Emily has enjoyed learning the disciplines of ballet, and what proud parents we were at her first recital! Her teacher is a high school student at Doulos, and we are so grateful for the opportunity. I’m sure this video has already gone viral, but in case you missed out this performance, you can check it out here. 😉
8. Expedition Night. We got to experience our first Expedition Night and it just confirmed what a truly special school Doulos is. We may be biased, but the highlight of the night for us, was when Luke perfectly executed his lines, both in English and Spanish! He was originally asked to memorize his lines in English, but two days before the show, his teacher decided to challenge both Luke and the Dominican girl who had learned the lines in Spanish, to switch parts! On the first run of the program, the little girl got nervous, but Cool Hand Luke was not affected by the pressure, switched his lines back to English, and saved the day! And then, on the second run of the program, he switched back to Spanish again! Unfortunately, we were in Emily’s class during the second performance, so we didn’t get that on video, but his teacher said it was flawless!  We were proud of them both! It is a great honor to have two fully bilingual kiddos!
7. Navi-Christmas. The Navi-Christmas program at Doulos was so sweet! So glad we invited our friends from church and our neighbors to get to share in this fun program. One of the most precious moments was Silent Night sung in Spanish by the third and fourth graders by candlelight. Luke and Emily rocked the house in Jingle Bell Rock!
6. Santa came to town! And you’ll never guess who played the part!? Yours truly, TREVOR!!
5. The Padrino. We love the crazy mixture of our cultures that we have created with our neighbors. It’s always an adventure when they invite us to share in something new, because we never have any idea what to expect.  Like a few weeks ago when they asked Trevor to be Ada’s padrino, or “sponsor” for a graduation ceremony for a medical program they completed for the past 12 Sunday mornings. Apparently, here, going to graduation “stag” is not an option. In fact, your padrino is required to accompany you across the stage. Other than the mortarboards, not much resembled a typical American commencement. Did I mention the ceremony was held in a night club? The girls had ball gowns under their cap and gowns, and after the ceremony was a night of dancing! It was a night to remember. 🙂
4. Blessings for all. We love being a part of our small house church which serves so many precious kiddos and families by the Rosalia family. This year we had a meal served by the hands of our members, and hand-decorated bags filled with clothes and toys for all of the children! It was possibly our most favorite moment of Christmas. It was a blessing for us just to be able to be a part in this vertical blessing for others.
3.  Actividad de Navidad. A friend and fellow staff member from the Doulos cafeteria invited our family to their church for their Christmas program. It was filled with singing and dancing. The next day, they invited our family to their home for dinner. You’ve never felt so welcome to a church or a home of friend until you have been to one of a Dominican. This definitely makes the highlight list.
2. A four-course meal. The best way to beat a Blue Christmas is to surround yourself with great people! What a blessing to be a part of the Doulos family Christmas progressive dinner. We celebrated at four different homes, and ended the night around a fire. It was the perfect ending to Christmas day.
1. Sleeping under the stars. What is a Caribbean Christmas without sandy beaches and palm trees? We have seen a lot of beautiful things on this island, but the jagged cliffs surrounded by turquoise sparkling waters of the Samana Peninsula is #1 on our list so far. We got to spend time with some great brothers and sisters in Christ, bond as a family (tent camping is a great way to get close! lol), and just be in awe of His creation.
Much love and blessings to you all for 2014!