(You can click on the pictures to enlarge them – just be patient – it can be slow)

This is an annual event for our congregation. One would think that by now we would be used to it. In one sense we are and in another we are not. We’re used to it in the sense that we know how to organise it and make it happen. We set dates in our diaries and buy boxes and book buses. We organise the food and we get helpers together. We’re pretty used to that…

What I still can’t get used to is how two small congregations are able to bring together so many resources of time, talent and treasure to make a difference in the lives of 300 children who get gift boxes and the 160 who came to the party this year.

When one considers that 300 boxes cost R100 each, that each bus hired costs over R4000, that the food for the day comes to about R40 per person, that five jumping castles are hired and people give up hours of their time to pack boxes, prepare games, do the shopping and then be there on the day, one begins to get some grasp of the the scale and magnitude of the event.

So… 300 gift boxes were purchased and prepared for the event.

Then on Saturday 3 Dec, we gathered to prepare for the 130 kids we were expecting. BUT we had some curved balls:
– One bus arrived very early
– One bus arrived more or less on time
– And then we heard of a third bus (which wasn’t planned) that arrived late.
– We had 30 additional children arriving

But these curved balls didn’t set us back for too long! We made some quick changes to our planning, we experienced some Divine Providence and our kitchen  staff made some helpful adaptations and the outcome was that everyone still had a super time, every mouth was fed and food was left over.

We had a time of praise and worship that involved hugs, songs with actions and a load of fun for all. We had some ice-breakers and divided the kids into groups and then it was off to the games. Our four usual stations were enjoyed by the kids: Jumping Castles, Relay Races, Soccer and Water Games.

After the games, Lentikile led us in devotions and then we enjoyed a lovely lunch. And then it was time to go…. but on the way out each child was given a gift box which will probably be the best material thing they will be given this Christmas.

And that brings me to the second thing I can’t get used to. These children come from unthinkable circumstances. Many of them are orphans. Many of them are HIV+. Many of them are in child-led households. Many of them are cared for by community members who are not even related to them. Yet they come with such love and enthusiasm. They smile and cuddle and give us a whole lot more than we gave them.

A few weeks ago I preached a sermon about the Kingdom being like yeast. It works in ways that we can barely understand. This is one of those…

One final thought:

Are Ministers allowed to be proud?
If it’s being proud of the awesome congregations he has the privilege of serving then I think it’s OK…
I am so proud of Emmanuel and Grace congregations and how their members pitched in to make this and so many of the other things we do happen!

To the awesome congregation members that made this happen!

There are more photos on our FaceBook page. Click here.

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