Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Our Christmas Prayer
for you this season
is that you may life to the fullest
....laugh from the center of your being your friends and neighbors more completely
....lose your way to find God’s way
....look at and recognize God’s hand in your life
.....listen to what God has to say to you
......light the way for others

There is a Lao saying:
“One piece of wood will not make a fence.”

This saying speaks to the power of community and working together.
Lao people might use the word “solidarity”
but we choose to translate it as “community.”
The saying tells us that on our own
we are powerless, solitary and vulnerable,
but when we work together towards a common goal
we gain strength and can accomplish things
we could not do alone.

Thank you for being part of our community this past year.
We look forward to working, living, laughing and loving
with you in the future.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Time to say Good Bye

Yesterday we said "Good Bye" to Jane, Larry and Zak who have been living, learning, laughing and working with us for the past 3 years.

Here's part of the group that was on hand to see them off.

They left Vientiane under sunny skies with a temperature of 32 C. The forcast for Toronto on Tuesday (the day they arrive) will be -35C.

We wish they all the best as they adjust to Canada and we don't just mean the weather!

Monday, December 17, 2007

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

This Saturday we hosted the MCC Laos Staff Christmas Party at our house. It was great fun and started out with pre-party time for baking and decorating cookies.

The official party began with the Christmas story told in pageant form.

Here (above) are the angels talking to Mary, Jesus and Joseph. In real life, Joseph is an MCC translator and his wife and 8-month-old son complete the holy family.

The shepherds (above) trying to look afraid by the news the angels brought. In our pageant, it was the angels who were afraid!

Arthur linked the Christmas story and the coming of the wise men to the tradition of giving gifts to each other. We then proceeded to play the gift game where you pull numbers and get to chose either an open gift or a wrapped gift. This was very funny as we watched the chocolate hazelnuts, the mug set, the watermelon alarm clock (or some said it was an eggplant) and the bamboo purse get transferred from owner to owner around the room. This year the game was much shorter than past years because we “only” had 34 people playing.

Jane, Larry and Zak are at the end of their 3 year term and so we honored them by showing a slide show of their time here. It was interesting to see their work, play and (Zak’s) growth in pictures. After the show, we gave them a book and some t-shirts. Speeches were exchanged.

By this time, everyone was hungry and when we announced that it was time to build your own sandwiches, the entire room offered up a sigh of pleasant surprise. Lao people eat bread, but sandwiches are not a normal food. I’m not sure but perhaps some people at the party haven’t had them since the last time we served them at a staff event over 20 months ago. We also had coleslaw, spring rolls, chips, pickles and mustard. This was followed by small oranges and, of course, cookies that everyone helped make.

The next activity of the party was to give away some household items left by Ben and Alisa who left in July. Each item was numbered and the numbers were in a bowl. Guests were able to pull and number and get that item. The transistor radio got the most attention followed by the skipping rope.

On the left is the proud owner of a “new” fish tank (complete with rocks and other accessories) and on the right, the owner of a blue rain poncho.

The last and final item on the agenda was to pick up a poinsettia from Arthur who bought 20 this year with the knowledge that next year in Canada, he probably won’t be able to afford even one!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Advent Celebrations

We invited friends to join us in an evening of carol singing on Sunday to help us get into the Christmas spirit.
I (Phyllis) had done some Christmas baking and we asked people to also bring some baking for us to share together. It was a fun time. We borrowed hymnals from church and sang all the Christmas songs in them plus a few others.
It is meaningful to celebrate Christmas with friends from all over the world.

Our plans for Christmas this year are to stay with my parents at their house in Chiang Mai, Thailand for 10 days. We leave Laos on the 19 and return on the 30th. My sister will also be there.
We'll write more soon but in the meantime, we wish you God's blessing this Advent season.