Christmas in Pucallpa!
Peruvians don’t celebrate Christmas on the morning of Dec 25, but rather at night on Dec 24th. Therefore, I got to celebrate Christmas TWICE!!!
So, first off, even though the last day of classes was Friday, Dec 16, the teachers are required to continue working until Dec 28. So that resulted in us working/doing work activities up through Friday, Dec 23. We had the 24th off, so I spent the entire day making and decorating cookies! It was awesome....
Then, around 10:30 pm, I headed over to Pastor Victor's house with my loads of cookies. We chat and hang out until 11:30ish when dinner is ready! We share a little about the wonderful gift God has given us in His son Jesus, then we eat! As midnight approaches, we start to hear ever-increasing fireworks in the neighboring houses, etc....at midnight exactly, fireworks go crazy, we all suspend eating, and get up and wish each other Merry Christmas!!! Afterwards, some people begin calling family members and friends to wish them Merry Christmas, while others resume eating....
After we have all finished eating, calling, etc., we gather around the Christmas Tree to exchange gifts. Gifts are passed out one at a time and we all wait as the person opens their gift before the next gift is passed out. It really is neat to be able to join in the joy/fun as each person opens their gifts! After all the gifts have been opened, we say our thank you's and then head outside to do our own fireworks. I was slightly anxious the entire time because the guys lighting the fireworks enjoyed seeing who could light a firework and keep it in his hand the longest.....it was crazy!!! But the fireworks were cool... :-)
By 2:15ish, we finished our fireworks and I headed to bed. It was definitely different, but it was a neat new tradition to participate in!
I awoke Christmas morning and ate oatmeal for breakfast because I had run out of gas the day before making cookies…I then headed to the church service of some friends because we didn’t have service here at Refugio. After service, I went home with one of the missionary couples for lunch(this was pre-arranged). We were joined by another missionary couple and a single missionary lady. It was an absolutely amazing time getting to know the other missionary individuals while enjoying a feast of turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes with melted marshmallows, stuffing, green beans, rolls and canned corn(this is rare here so it was a treat)! It was then followed by nut filled jello and apple pie with vanilla ice-cream. It was amazing! After we ate, the other couple and single woman left and I stayed and played a card game with the couple who hosted the meal. I returned back to Refugio around 6ish and video-chatted with my family around 6:30. It was awesome seeing all of them!!! Afterwards I watched a Christmas Movie and headed to bed…It was a definitely a different kind of Christmas for me, but it was neat participating in some new traditions!