A Christmas Full of “Firsts”

I learned the other day that December and the first portion of January is the busiest time of year for us, and boy does that resonate! I’ve sat down to write this post probably six different times throughout the last three weeks, and keep getting interrupted with other important things! But now I am sitting in a coffee shop sipping on the first iced coffee (that isn’t blended) I’ve been able to find in six months! ¡Mmmm… Qué rico! With all the shenanigans that have happened, I can’t hardly put together one thought… so this post will mostly be an update of what has occurred over the last month and a half.

In the second week of December (also my first full week back in Guatemala after visiting the U.S.) we had a wonderful group from the States come help us with the chaos that was about to ensue! December 10th-13th our ministry hosts our very own version of summer camp for our teens and others in the area. It’s just like your typical summer camp with crazy games, swimming, ridiculous skits, Jesus changing lives, powerful worship, bible quizzing, and passionate sermons! I stayed behind to help entertain and wrangle the 8 little ones at Casa, and had them come over for a little sleepover!

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As you can see by Yenifer’s face, my cheesy eggs and chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast were a big hit!!

For the last night of camp we loaded up our little crew and took them to get a taste of camp. I was blown away by how the Holy Spirit was moving, and had not experienced anything like it here in Guate! I stood at the back watching these 70 or so teens worshiping their King, and I listened to several of their choked sobs as the music died downduring a song transition. I realized in that moment, that many of these kids haven’t experienced worship like this. I’m so thankful I got to experience the Holy Spirit stir and soften their hearts.

 

The day after camp was our big Christmas celebration! For several of our kiddos, this was their first Christmas to open any presents, and they were BESIDE THEMSELVES! The group brought piles of suitcases full of gifts for the children donated from many loving folks all over the US. They were so blessed!!  I unfortunately woke up that morning very sick and could not attend. I was so disappointed, but was thankful for the opportunity to share their Christmas joy a few days later (when I had a more stable stomach). As I arrived at the home, some of the girls ran up to me and dragged me into their bedroom to show me all of the wonderful new things they had received. With giggles of delight, they pulled out each toy and every single article of new clothing one-by-one to show me. I caught a glimpse then of how delightful the festivities had been, and was so thankful I got to share the excitement and newness of it all with them.

andres christmas
I asked all of the kids what their favorite part of Christmas was, and the majority emphatically said something like, “opening gifts for Christmas! It was so exciting and fun!” They felt so loved, wanted, and were thankful for the generosity of those who sent gifts! Getting gifts is not a normal experience for these kids, so many of them have been waiting ALL YEAR FOR THIS DAY!
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Other answers to “What was your favorite part about Christmas?” included “all of the fun activities”, “playing with the Americans”, and “seeing the joy on the other kids faces as they opened their presents (this from Jimmy, one of our kids who has been here from the beginning.) And then some of our more spiritually minded kiddos (a.k.a Geovany) said “the birth of Jesus, because it is the reason for Christmas!” The funny thing is, I know he’s not just Jesus juking… he’s being genuine! He LOVES God with his whole heart 🙂
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Reyna spoke for days about how thankful she was for Christmas. She told me the other day that this was HER FIRST CHRISTMAS EVER (at the age of 10). In the past she lived in several different homes, and they either couldn’t afford or didn’t care to celebrate Christmas. She was especially tickled by all of her new clothes and getting her first bike!
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Speaking of bikes… in November Virginia told me, “I’m going to get a bike for Christmas because I’m being obedient.” I’m not sure if this was wishful thinking on her part, or a white lie from her older sister trying to get her to be more compliant (she’s a strong-willed little lady!), but I told her – “No honey. You won’t get a bike because your being obedient. IF you get a bike for Christmas, it will be because we love you. That’s it.” Well looks like her wish came true 🙂
mario christmas

After all of the hectic holiday festivities, we had a little over one week to prepare for the next school year to start up. We purchased new school supplies, decorated notebooks, labeled EVERYTHING (because somehow things go magically missing… ha), and inscribed them all for the school year. We even got little Yenifer signed up for preschool, and Mario enrolled in a school for the deaf!

All that to say, it’s been a wonderful whirlwind of a few months with the kids. The chaos (plus sickness) was stressful, but full of so many wide grins, whispered “I love you”s tickling my ear, strangling hugs, games of chase, shrieks of delight, and new experiences. I’d absolutely do it all over again! …except maybe for the sickness.

Prayer Requests:

  1. We have two court cases coming up while I’m gone: Jeshua and Andrés (January 16th), as well as for Pancho (February 6th). I prepared the thick information packets for the judge including my most recent evaluations (all in Spanish of course), but am always a little anxious beforehand. The Lord has protected these three so far, but I fear that the judge will send them to negative and potentially dangerous environments. Please pray for these children, and for the judge as well!
  2. And PRAISE THE LORD with me… I have received $1,050 towards my goal of $8,720 towards a vehicle and Spanish School! I’m still short the amount of $7,670. 1 Thess. 5:24, “He who calls you is faithful, and he will surely do it.” I’ve stepped out in obedience; I enrolled in the Christian Spanish Academy in Antigua, and have been here for 2 days! My purpose in doing so is three-fold: 1. I need to write in and speak Spanish in preparation for the court hearings. 2. I need to be able to speak with the children without a translator (confidentiality, and things get muddied up in translation sometimes) 3. And through communication I want to deepen my relationships with the children as well. I am already missing the kids, but the amount I have learned so far in two days is incredible! I spend 4 hours in the classroom, and 2-4 hours every day studying independently, and while it is exhausting it is effective.
  3. I also believe God has a plan for me here. I’ve felt him stirring in my heart towards many outreach opportunities. I’ll share more of those with you in my next post. 🙂 Pray that the Lord would make obvious the ways I am to minister and share the gospel while studying in Antigua, and that I would be willing and obedient to follow His Will in it

If you feel the Lord tugging on your heart to help, please consider giving financially to help me obtain these needs! All info you need is in the “GIVE” tab or you can click here for credit/debit donations : https://mxmerchant.com/mxcustomer/d/fdaef733-8a39-4e94-beee-bd1fef2a085f/v3?showmemo=1&memo=33-A%20Putthoff

 

 

 

P.S. PC creds to Shane Sanderson and Jodi Brager for Christmas and camp pics. 🙂

 

1 thought on “A Christmas Full of “Firsts””

  1. What a joy it is for me to see all that God is doing in your life and anticipation of all that He will continue to do as you follow His lead and step out in faith. It’s not like stepping out on a limb that could break at any moment. But you are stepping out on the solid rock: “The Lord is my Rock and my salvation, whom shall I fear?” He will not disappoint! Praying that these two months surpass any imagination of His faithfulness! I love you!

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