We have been posting quite a few pictures of people drinking hot chocolate and eating fruit cake this past advent season leading up to Christmas. Some people have asked why is it that we are drinking hot chocolate in 90+ degree weather. That is a very valid question and sometimes we wonder why we enjoy drinking it when it is so hot as well. Some other people can't believe we are serving fruitcake to children.
For the record it isn't too bad, but it is definitely not my grandmother's fruitcake. I am one of those people who enjoy fruitcake. I especially loved the Christmas season because my Grandma Jane would make fruitcake with my godmother LeAnn. It was so moist and delicious and I always looked forward to eating it. Oh how I miss my grandma and her fruitcake!!!
Sorry I got sidetracked. The answer to these questions is simple. We do it out of love! Love for Jesus and love for the people we have come to know over this past year.
You see we work in the zone of Buenos Aires. This zone or district has 17 pueblos in it. Only a handful of these pueblos have been somewhat evangelized. The majority have not. The reason is simple for these pueblos going unevangelized is because the two valley roads are a nightmare to travel on especially when it is raining. Just ask Monica or Tony, Taylor's parents, they would be more than happy to share their experience with you.(Or read their blog post here)
Recently one of the valley roads has been recut through the mountain and it has been improved by putting gravel down. Surprisingly this has been a huge help. This gravel road takes us to the town of Mirador from there we then have to travel either by foot or with our horses and mules to the other towns further in. We have to travel four hours one way to reach one pueblo. This is the real reason why the towns have not been evangelized.
When we started visiting and ministering to all of these forgotten or unknown towns we learned that no one has visited them. We also learned very few people have baptism because the only time they have had baptism is when the families walk to Mirador. We also learned that the children and many of the adults have never her the birth of Jesus and the town does not have any Christmas traditions.
We wanted to help the people change that. We wanted to help the people start a real Christ centered Christmas tradition. From there came the hot chocolate and the fruitcake.
Hot chocolate is a very special treat. You see the town comes together to make the hot chocolate. Everyone contributes what they can. If someone in town has milking cows that person donates the milk, this is a sacrifice because that person will not receive pay that day. If someone has cacao, this is the bean chocolate is made from, a person will donate that. This is another sacrifice because the price for cacao is high. Other people will contribute sugar and clean water as well as flour. If the town does not have fresh milk or cacao the people will buy canned milk and chocolate bars.
You might be wondering why we would ask the people to sacrifice in this way. We explain that as a faith community they can come together and through their community they can help each other through prayer but also through action. In the beginning the families are skeptical that they will be able to handle making it by themselves, but as each family brings their collaboration they start to see the end result they desire is within reach. Then their spirits are lifted and everyone joyfully prepares the chocolate. It is after the chocolatada that the faith community starts to take ownership of their faith and it helps unify them together.
Fruitcake is a special treat that is only available during advent and Christmas here in Peru. It is sold in many stores but many people in the far villages have never had the opportunity to share this with their family because of the cost. It costs $6.00 for one fruitcake. This fruitcake can be divided into ten generous pieces. The average daily wage for a person is $7.00. This is the reason why most people are unable to purchase one.
When we said we would supply the fruitcake for the pueblo and also bring a movie the people were so excited. Not only would we all be drinking delicious hot chocolate a rare and special drink, but many children would have the opportunity to eat fruitcake for the first time.
When we arrive to town on our animals carrying a box full of fruitcake the kids are always excited. Then we setup a white sheet and our projector and the rest of the town gets super excited because they get the experience of a movie theatre as well.
It is during this event where we get to talk about the real meaning of Christmas. I really enjoy watching our friends reactions to seeing the Birth of Jesus for the first time. I love hearing them compare their lives with the lives of Mary and Joseph. I love how after Elizabeth gives birth and the women in the movie are celebrating my friends also celebrate in the same way with them.
I hope that this blog answered the questions you might have had regarding our hot chocolate and fruitcake pictures. If not please reach out so I can explain a little more in a future post. ~Katie