Posted by Matt Bush

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This is the follow-up to our most recent blog about our Christmas Party. It was an absolute blast. The party went from 2:00 to about 7:00 and it was just a great celebration. I need to apologize to anyone within a ½ mile radius of the kids’ house because it was really loud, but that is how parties here are supposed to be. We hired a DJ who brought speakers, a microphone, and a sound system that had enough power to cover a party 10x the size of ours. We ended up having right around 70 people including our kids, most of our employees, a lot of our employees’ families, some of our kids’ friends, some neighborhood kids, Jessica’s parents, and a couple of our sponsors (Jim and Brad Henry) who were down to see their sponsored kids.

The party started at 2:00 with some music and dancing and just getting warmed up. When Sophie woke up from her nap and we all walked down from our house to the kids house, everything really started. At our parties with the kids they almost always make what they call a “program.” The program is a literal, typed-out program of what each kid will be doing during the party. They can choose from singing, telling stories or jokes, doing a small memorized speech, or dancing and most of the kids (not our older boys for the most part) do one of these things at some point in the program. In fact, Sophie and I were a part of the program because when I play guitar (and I use that phrase loosely) Sophie loves to sit next to me and dance and the kids wanted us to do that for everyone to see. This part of the party is always a blast because the kids just love it and they do such a great job. At the end of the program is what they call the “surprise” time of the night when they are allowed to call anyone up to the front to dance while they pretty much chant your name. It doesn’t last long, however, because it ends up everyone just jumping right to the middle and dancing all together (including Jess, Sophie, and I). It was a really fun program.

If you remember in the last blog I wrote that Apolon and Woodly were supposed to lead the program and essentially keep the party going. The day before the big party Woodly kept telling us he was too nervous and might not be able to do it and Apolon just kept saying hoe excited he was to perform and to be in front of everyone. In fact, he was the one who met with the DJ with us to make sure he was comfortable with him. Well, the night before the party, Jeff (our “house dad”) gave Woodly a pep talk about how good he is at this type of thing and how he should just relax and have fun. When the party started, Woodly completely took over. He was leading everything, keeping everybody pumped up and excited, and even rapping and singing in between acts. Apolon, on the other hand, hardly said a word and was too scared to even hold the microphone most of the time. It was really funny and Woodly did an incredible job. I hope we have a picture of it so we can post it to Facebook soon so you can see his outfit and how confident he was leading.

While the party was going on, Marjorie and Gisele along with a friend of there were in the kitchen preparing a feast for everyone. We had fried chicken (Marjorie’s fried chicken is some of the best I have ever had in America or here), fried plantains, macaroni salad, pikliz, French fries, rice and beans, cokes and sprites, and the 2 huge 3-tiered cakes that Jess, Jill, and the little ones made and the older ones decorated. Marjorie always has done such a great job for us and she never disappoints in this setting.

After the program, the food, and a lot more dancing, it was time to send everyone home and bring the kids up to get their Christmas present. I am going to write another blog about this pretty soon, but it is always so fun to watch them open their gifts. Each year they are allowed to ask their sponsors for 1 specific thing and it is really the only thing they get to ask for each year so the process is usually a long one. They change their mind over and over again until they have chosen the exact right thing. This year, the majority of our older kids chose either Amazon Fire tablets or iPhones (the iPhone 3 or 4). I have mentioned before that they do not have internet, they cannot use the phone function of the phone, and they will not ever have a data plan. We explained all of this to them and how much it limited their ability to use this type of electronic, but they did not care. When they opened their gifts you could just see the joy in their eyes. They kept telling us for weeks before the party that they could not sleep because they were so excited to get their gifts. The gifts definitely did not disappoint. We had what I think is probably a common “raising teenagers” occurrence last night as almost all of them sat around our living room starting at electronics screens and not really talking to each other! We are, of course, going to have really strict rules on using their new gifts, but for now it is just fun to watch them act like kids because that is exactly what they are…Kids!

Anyway, the party was an absolute blast and we are so thankful for all that you did to help us enjoy this time with our kids. We only wish more of you could have been down here to be a part of it. From start to finish, Saturday was amazing, and our kids still have not stopped talking about how fun it was. Please check Facebook to see some of the pictures from the day and thanks again for the huge role you play in making this ministry happen!


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