|The Christmas Eve Gingerbread House|
|The stage area with the stockings displayed|
|The tables were set and festive|
A friend of Brenda's who has a business that takes her on buying trips to China repeatedly during the year worked with her suppliers to get enough darling Christmas stockings for each Elder and Sister to have one of their own. We had fun matching some to the different personalities of the missionaries and we filled them with handmade gifts, candy, and a special letter from their family or a testimony from a member if the family did not respond with a letter. They were so cute and it was such fun to watch the eyes of the missionaries as they entered the cultural hall and spotted them on the stage. One American Elder [who knew about stockings-the Filipino's didn't understand the concept for the most part but caught on quickly once the tradition was explained to them] leaned over to me and whispered..'sister, are those real stockings or just for decoration?' I assured him they were real and he was so pumped!!
Sister Carlos made a bizillion pans of lasagna, salad, garlic bread and everyone got their fill. The most popular item I think was the fresh green salad-a luxury here for the missionaries. Most don't spend the money to buy then prepare salad so it was a huge hit!
Each zone was asked to prepare and present a skit..some were fun, some serious and all very enjoyable. The senior missionaries and the AP's had our own skit-it was a take-off on The 12 Day's of Christmas, Filipino style...using a lot of things we only find here. President and Sister Carlos wrote it on a recent road trip and we had such fun getting our 'props' together. Here is a UTube link if you want to be brave..hahaha!
|This clever group used rice bags to create their costumes|
|A Christmas song sung by the Tuguegarao Zone|
|Our Ilagan characters|
|And Santiago, our final performance|
|Bagged and ready..|
|Elder Oliver, me, Randy and Elder Rausa|
Sister Carlos is a kid at heart and loves to create things, hence the main activity that night-construction of a Gingerbread House. Most of the Filipinos have never seen or heard of such a thing but they all did a great job.
|pretty nifty, huh??|
One last thing is the tradition of 'carolers' here in the Philippines. Starting mid-November, groups will come to your house and sing Christmas songs and when finished, put their hands out expecting to be paid a tip. The people here are interesting-I think I have mentioned in the past that there is NO middle class-people are very rich or very poor for the most part and that breeds begging. I am not one to give handouts, never have been and never will be so when people or children approach me on the street, in front of restaurants or other business establishments, in the palenke, etc. with their 'sad' eyes, the moaning and hand out, I normally ignore them. We were told early on about the poverty and the begging and were told that as missionaries, we cannot give to beggars. Americans are targeted anyway because, according to the people here, we are all filthy rich and can afford anything...boy, do they have THAT wrong!!! Anyway, parents tend to exploit their children in the begging and caroling is no exception. Many groups came and just wanted peso's but this little group actually sang for us a couple of mornings and touched the soft heart of my hubby.
|Our cute little carolers|