We did the usual Hunt Family Nativity Spectaular again this year, and Tori had the honor of playing the coveted role of Mary, which she pulled off beautifully. We also went to a Stake Christmas nativity which my sister Sarah was in charge of, and Emilie played Mary, Anabel played an adorable little angel, and they both did a great job. She tried desperately to stand still for the whole time, but in usual Anabel fashion, ended up doing a kind of rocking back and forth like a little dance for a while, until she gave up and just sat down. It was so cute! And considering she was the only one of our kids brave enough to stand up there infront of the entire Stake and perform for the first time in her life, it was not only so sweet, but impressive :-)
The girls are all old enough now to really feel of the Christmas spirit, and we are trying to encourage them to think beyond presents and focus on the real Christmas message. Juan shared with them this year for the first time the story of his first Christmas in Australia. It's very emotional for him, as he and his family had arrived in Australia as refugees from El Salvador less than a month earlier with pretty much nothing but the clothes on their back. They were fortunate enough to have been given a house to live in, but apart from that, all food and clothing were donated by local Christian organisations. He shared with the girls how his parents were so sad because they had no money to buy anything for Christmas gifts or special food in that first year, but to their surprise and delight, good samaritans from local church groups brought to their homes boxes of used toys, clothing and food on Christmas day. Juan remembers as an 8 year old being so excited to receive used toys and clothes that were either too big or too small. He said that you could tell that they had all been used, but to them, they were new and beautiful and exciting. He remembers that his parents were so grateful and overwhelmed, as were the kids and it became a wonderful Christmas to remember forever.
Every year since we have been married, we have made an effort to annonymously buy groceries for a family that we know is in need. This year the girls were old enough to really participate, and every family prayer together we would pray to know who to give food to. We received our answer, and dropped the full laundry basket around. It was fun to watch the girls get excited about it, and really feel of the spirit of giving not just fun things to eachother, but things they had never considered 'gifts' to peopel in need.
It has been interesting and wonderful to see how emotional the girls became when they found out that their dad, someone they love so much and know so well, had actually experienced such heart ache as a young child the same age as themselves. It's even hard for me to comprehend it all; what Juan and his family have been through coming over here to Australia back in 1988. I'm just so grateful for the sacrifices his parents have made for their children. They didn't speak any english, let alone know where 'Brisbane Australia' was, and they came over here without any friends or family support. Now, with each of their five children all married and active in the church, all with kids of their own, and all with education and successful careers to rely upon, it's a miracle to see the hand of the Lord having guided them in their lives. I don't know where I would be without my wonderful husband and the beautiful children he has given me and the life that we share together.
This Christmas has certainly been one of gratitude for us, and our children, thanks to Juan being back here in Queensland with us again, as well as him sharing his family history, and I hope that the girls will always be able to take the humble and devistating circumstances of war and sacrifice that his family endured, and be able to turn it into positive experiences and changes for themselves and their families now and into the future, as we have and continually try to do for them every day.
Mucho gracias Abuelio et Abuelita, et Felis Navidad!