By Dr. Rick and Mary Ervin

Remembering eleven years ago during our first Christmas, we were in Nicaragua for just a little over a month. We were living in an area, with as far as we knew, no English speaking neighbors. The few stores that we visited had little in the way of decorations. I’m not sure that I even saw any quality artificial tree that year for sale. There was some simple wrapping paper here and there. We weren’t even sure where to shop for gifts for each other, I think we were limited to a grocery store! Our Christmas feast was probably chicken, rice and red beans.

We celebrated at a local church, reasonably large with several hundred attendees for their Christmas Eve service. I was amazed as they put on a Christmas pageant that included a live donkey with pregnant Mary riding in from the back. He began to buck a little close to the front, and I couldn’t translate Spanish as Mary was talking to Joseph. I think she was really giving him a hard time for not making any arrangements for a place to stay for the night. All in all, it was the most realistic enactment, and I would say the majority of the people had a better understanding of Mary and Joseph’s difficult accommodations that eventful night.

Mary and I have taken up a project of celebrating Christmas Day with the people close to our hearts in the Rehabilitation. With the help of funds from generous church groups and individuals, we put together a gift of different items that we hope brighten their lives a little. Gifts range from tote bags, socks, shirts, cups, toothbrushes and paste, towels and soap, even spoons. It might not sound like much, but it is something to say others are thinking of them during this joyous occasion. It is likely that some of these people have never received a Christmas gift before. We have a special something sweet that Mary baked, and a small worship service. Then they beat the piñata, and all the grownups hit the floor for candy! It is a festive adventure, to say the least, sharing the joy on earth and good will toward men.

The political unrest in Nicaragua over the last year has undoubtedly been hard on the country’s population. We are all doing what we can, but it will be as Dolly sings “A Hard Candy Christmas” for many. Unemployment is at an all-time high and poverty is showing more than we’ve seen it before. Christmas celebrations will be different for many, but for the faithful, it will be joyous and full of praise for our Christ.

Due to the situation in the country we’ve not been able to have teams this year. We pray that will change over the next few months. If not, we plan to be here carrying out the projects as best we can. We have no plans to leave, and we are having to pick up more of the expenses of the Rehab as it stretches our budget and savings. God willing, next year we will need people to come to help with projects to help people become self-sustaining. We would like to look at are increasing our animals, land planted, expand production practices, and building a new dorm for workers and visitors as well as a swine unit.

We look forward to the challenges of the coming year. God has always provided through using you as His hands and feet. We are the lucky ones in that we get to live here, and God blesses us in so many ways even in the storm. We feel safe, we have a roof over our head, food on the table, and are where He wants us doing His will. We would love for you to join us in this mission as you can in prayers and support both financially and spiritually. Please contact us if you would like to help.

Please pray with us for Him to guide us in the next year. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.- Luke 2:14 KJV

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