Christmas in Colombia

Fernanda, Israel and David are going to their house. From the bus stop, they spent half an hour climbing. Already at the peak of the hill they can see the city.

Here the houses have one floor and are made from cardboard and plastic pieces. A few are made from brick.

woman and boy standing in doorway

Fernanda and her children have been living in this neighborhood since 1999. Since a year ago, she has been living with Antonio, a man about 15 years older, who owns this house. Antonio is a home builder and the stepfather of Israel and David.

boy standing in cornfield Israel jumps to the neighbor’s yard and begins to search through the cornfield for the best corncobs to make donuts (bunhuelos).

Bunhuelos are Colombian biscuits typical for the Christmas season. Israel brings back some corncobs to make the dough.

Everybody is helping in the kitchen, while Fernanda grinds the corn and makes the mixture with cheese, a bit of sugar and salt.

When the dough is ready, they go down the hill to the main street of the neighborhood “Paraiso.” They walk half an hour to where the family has the frying cart, where they are going to fry the donuts.

Fernanda pulls the frying cart from a bus garage and parks it at the front of a warehouse. This place is visited a lot, and more at Christmas time. Fernanda moves her hands in the dough, creating balls the size of golf balls for each donut.

After about two hours she finishes frying the donuts and sends these with David to the student center, approximately five blocks away.

A few minutes later Marien, the director of the child development center, came to them and asked if Israel was ready to buy his Christmas gift.

Israel jumps with happiness. He puts his hands on his face. Just in front of him is the store where the director buys the gifts for all the children of the student center.

There Israel receives a t-shirt, jeans and sport shoes that he does not want to remove ever. Israel says that the last time he received a new pair of sport shoes was two years ago because the last Christmas was a black pair of shoes just for the school classes.

The director of the program tells Israel that within a few hours he will receive his gift formally in the Christmas supper, and she returns to the student center.

Israel has five years at the Compassion program and David eight years. They have learned to be obedient to their mom and they will collaborate in everything with her.

woman and two boys working in kitchen

His mother helps to cook and clean up in the student center when it is necessary. Fernanda also appreciates that in the student center she was taught to brush her hair and make their beds. She did not know how to do it before.

Israel knows by memory the name of his sponsors and even has Legos in the original packaging and some cars that they sent on his recent birthday and Christmas.

He has waited for this Christmas Eve as never before because he knows that the angel of God always brings him just what he needs.

The dreams of Israel are alive on each Christmas, and his great dream is to be a firefighter. Being next to his mother on the street, he has seen three fires, and he dreams to help their community in case of a fire.

Fifteen minutes later, Fernanda, Israel and David move toward the student center where a Christmas dinner is prepared.

In November, the center director made a list of things to do with her staff to prepare the presentations for the great night.The youngest children were dressed as angels and followed their tutor Yuli to sing Christmas carols in the opening service.

Then the children from six to nine years old with their tutor Tatiana presented the Christmas drama.

Later the children of 10 to 12 years sang more Christmas carols, dressed in costumes of the Middle East. The adolescents group prepared special songs to recall the birth of Jesus.

Finally, the pastor Elvia Parra offers a sermon of hope in Jesus’ name. With prayers for the blessing of their food, everyone knows that it is time to sit at the tables to enjoy chicken, rice, and as dessert cinnamon pudding and Fernanda’s bunhuelos.

All the student center team are serving the tables. The teachers are dressed in Christmas costumes. Fernanda is in the kitchen helping in the midst of all the bustle.

The main room is decorated with Christmas posters. Children are laughing and talking. One can feel the atmosphere of Christmas, the musicians do not stop singing, while children finish eating dessert.

After the children have finished eating, Marien the director shouts, “It is time to deliver these gifts!” and with one voice they make their “Yesss!” strong, confessing with authority that God is faithful again.

All children receive their gifts with a big smile and with a hug for their teachers. They have already spent two and a half hours since the beginning of the Christmas presentations.

Israel also receives his package, and he decides to go to the bathroom and puts the new sport shoes, pants and t-shirt on.

Afterwards, Fernanda, David and Israel help to clean up the main room and they are prepared to return to their job in the street where Antonio is waiting for them.

There Israel and David show to their stepfather Antonio what they got for this year. It is 9 p.m. and they will spend Christmas selling donuts.

9 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Frances Durman March 29, 2010

    What a blessing this story gave me. It makes you so thankful for what you have and should make some of us ashame for complaining about not having enought. I hope they sold all of their donuts too. God is good!!!!!

  2. Mike Stephens March 25, 2009

    Judith you are right!!! I do not think I even for 1 day I didn’t have more than I needed. One time I lost 19 lbs to make weight for a school boxing tournament and didn’t eat a thing or drink for 2 days, but it was all by choice. I didn’t think I could lose so much weight in a few days!!! But in the USA we are very poor in other things like faith, which the bible says is more valuable than Gold!!! That is why I am so thankful for Compassion because it helps increase my faith. I think even in this economy my faith account is nearly 56 trillion dollars!!! wooohooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!! I can’t wait until I get to spend it!!! 😉

  3. Albert January 9, 2009

    David is my sponsored child! It’s so great to see him and his family doing well. It was an unforgettable experience to visit them in 2003. At the time, Fernanda was still single, so I’m glad that they can have a complete family again. God is good!

  4. Heather December 26, 2008

    Another great story with no greed attached and no one complaining about what they got for Christmas! 🙂 Cute children-I hope they sold out of their donuts!

  5. Judith Tremblay December 23, 2008

    Just comparing the following description of Israel–“He has waited for this Christmas Eve as never before because he knows that the angel of God always brings him just what he needs”–with the Sprint commercial that just aired on TV: “Get your family what they really want.”

    So many Americans, myself included, likely have no real concept of what it means to NOT have our basic needs met. I’m reminded of it whenever we hear about a fire–or other natural disaster–destroying someone’s home and material possessions, completely taking away the security we had in our things, to go from “homeowner” to “homeless” overnight.

    And then there are all of the Christians in the world who must meet in secret, because they are persecuted for their faith.

    Thank you for posting this glimpse into the day-to-day existence for most of the people in the world. May we never forget how truly blessed–financially and spiritually–we are.

  6. Kees Boer December 23, 2008

    That’s a great story. Chris, do you know what project that that is in? I got 3 correspondence children in Colombia.


  7. Britt December 23, 2008

    Whoops…here it is:

  8. Britt December 23, 2008

    I dugg it!

  9. Juli Jarvis December 23, 2008

    This is a very sweet story.

Add a Comment

Read the ground rules for comments.