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Why I don’t give My Kids Christmas Presents and What I Do Instead!

I remember it vividly. The 9.5ft tall Christmas tree filling up the living room with sparkly presents stacked so high around it that half of it seemed buried. At the time I was the oldest with 7 foster kids younger than me, and the 2nd youngest of my 8 biological siblings. There were a lot of us, but even at 17 years old I sat looking at the tree and wondered how many of those prettily wrapped up packages would be for me. When the much anticipated Christmas morning came I was as excited as the younger kids. My mom was the BEST present giver ever, and I couldn’t wait to see what surprises awaited me.

I remember opening gift after gift, delighted with each new one, but eager for the next. When the tree was empty I secretly looked around it searching for any lost presents with my name on them that might have been missed underneath the mess of wrapping paper, disappointment filling me when I couldn’t find any. 

The first few years Eric and I were married we did what everyone else does. Got ready for Christmas by executing carefully thought out gifts for our little girls. It was fun to be the mom and to do all the shopping for Christmas, but I also remember a lot of late nights and stress over how to provide the perfect gift, not only for each other but for the kids as well. It seemed like the more Christmases that went by the less I was thinking about the baby Jesus and the more I was thinking about how to create the perfect experience for baby Proffitt’s. 

On our kids 3rd or 4th Christmas together,  we decided together that there must be another way to do Christmas that helped keep our little family focused on the Savior, but that would still provide a magical experience we both loved from our own childhoods. After much prayer and debate, we kindly asked our extended family not to give presents to our kids, and we also agreed not to buy anything ourselves.

That first year we decided not to give gifts, Christmas morning was a total failure. We still hung stockings and we told the kids that all of us have Christmas Angels in our lives.

The Christmas Angel is anyone that loves you.

It could be your mom, or grandma, or even a neighbour down the road.

The thing that our Christmas Angel has in common with all other Christmas Angels is that they love us and want to bring a little magic into our lives. 

It was easy than to tell the kids that it was the Christmas angel that filled up their stockings that morning. But after we had opened stockings we didn’t really have anything else planned. While other families were excitedly cleaning up their houses to get it ready for present opening we were looking through the stockings, hoping we’d missed something. While other families were unwrapping, and playing with their new toys, we were sorta hanging out at home doing nothing. I had envisioned us just sitting around in a circle talking about Jesus all day, and thought that somehow that would have been exciting for the kids!

Analaea celebrates her 3rd Christmas

Although I was terribly disappointed, with vision vs reality, I knew there had to be a better way. I had thought it would be enough to take away presents and suddenly everyone in the family would become focused on the Savior, but I was wrong! If anything it made the focus on the Savior non-existent as the kids felt sad, lonely and really let down.

As Eric and I lay in bed that night we reflected on what we could have done better. We realised that if we were going take something as big as Christmas presents away from the kids, we needed to have something pretty fantastic to replace it with. And so over the years we began slowly creating our perfect Christmas Day, making sure it was filled with traditions that were meaningful, fun, memorable AND that helped us turn our hearts and minds to Jesus Christ. Today, 15 years later, here is a list of what we do to Celebrate Christmas starting from December 1. 

CHRISTMAS BOOKS

At the beginning of December I always get my favorite Christmas stories and wrap them up under the Christmas tree. You might remember that I don’t give my kids presents on Christmas morning, however, I do like giving presents I just don’t want it to eclipse the real meaning of Christmas. So If there is something I really want my kids to have that will ADD to the spirit (the real spirit) of Christmas than I wrap it up early and leave a little note from the Christmas Angel under the tree. A few new picture Books about Jesus definitely qualify as adding to the spirit of Christmas.

CHRISTMAS TREE

As soon as December  rolls around we are eager to find a lovely scented pine to adorn the center of our home.  We usually bundle up the children and tromp through the nearby community pasture in search of the perfect tree. The snow is deep and more often than not we end up getting stuck, but it’s all worth it when we strap that beauty to the top of the car and bring it home.

My husband and brother loading up the ugliest tree, they’ve ever brought home!

Somehow the trees seems to look better in the forest than they do when we get home, but isn’t that just like me in some ways? If someone was to strip away all the surroundings of my life, my friends, my family, my lovely house and nice car, would I look as beautiful? I think not, but it is in those imperfections that we find room for Christ, He is the great Jehovah who can make up the difference.  And so as I adorn my tree each year, I think of Christ and how because of Him we are made whole, perfect and eventually presentable to God.

The decorating of the Christmas tree is a special event in our home and over the years we have made a conscience effort to create a tree that reminds us of all things Christ. Here are some of the decorations I put on our tree this year and why:

STARS- To represent the Star that led the wisemen and shepherds to the Christ Child

DOVES- To represent the Peace that Jesus brings to our hearts when we let Him in

BIRDS- To represent the Freedom that Jesus will bring when He comes again

ANGELS- The scriptures are full of references to Angels spreading God’s word

BABY IN A MANGER

CROWNS- To remind us that He is king

PINECONES- Or anything nature to remind us that He was the CREATOR of all things

KEYS- To remind us that God has the Key to all power

HEARTS- To remind us why He died for us- “For God so LOVED the world that He gave His only Begotten Son that whosoever believeth shall not perish but have everlasting life”

CHRISTMAS MUSIC

Music has a great power to influence the feeling in a home and in a heart, which is why songs about Santa, and Snowflakes aren’t top of my list songs for a Christmas playlist. When I play Christmas music, I want it to be deliberate, extraordinary and add to the spirit in our home by delivering a powerful message about Jesus Christ.  That doesn’t mean that Santa and Snowflakes don’t sneak in every so often, but by and large our Christmas playlist is comprised of songs that testify of Jesus Christ.

We have a really lovely playlist on Spotify that has lots of the old classic Christmas carols and but mostly includes beautiful songs that talk about the Savior and not Santa. Here is a list of some of our favorite Christmas Albums:

  • Josh Groban- Noel
  • Pentatonix
  • Tabernacle Choir on Temple Square
  • Susan Boyle
  • Vienna Boys Choir
  • 4 Tenors
  • David Archuleta- David
  • Celtic Woman-A Christmas Celebration
  • Charlotte Church- Dream a Dream
  • Jackie Evancho- Dream With Me
  • Susan Boyle- The Gift

SECRET SANTA

We spend a lot of time doing secret Santa to our friends and neighbours throughout the month of December. We wrap up packages of books, or treats, or hot chocolate and drop it off. We ring the doorbell and hide, and the kids always get caught and the chase is exciting 🙂

CHRISTMAS ACTIVITIES

We fill December with Christmas Activities such as: Skating, sledding, skiing, singing, reading Christmas stories around the fire, drinking hot chocolate, & decorating gingerbread houses.

Decorating gingerbread houses

CHRISTMAS DEVOTIONALS

We often have a Christmas devotional each night of the month leading up to Christmas. Usually I’ll prepare a treat, like hot chocolate, and then we’ll sit around the tree and read something inspirational. The kids are allowed to invite their friends to join us for these devotionals. 

I have collected my favorite stories and scriptures into a devotional packages that you can get which is filled with sweet stories, songs and easy activities 🙂

LIGHT THE WORLD

Lighting the world with our cousins

We try to do a ‘Light the World’ act of service or love each day in December and can find the calendar for these activities online HERE.

CHRISTMAS CAROLLING

We love to sing to our neighbors, the old folks homes, and the people at the hospital. Often I give the kids electric candles and we bring them while singing. It makes it feel special. 

CHRISTMAS EVE

Acting out the nativity with our friends in Vanuatu

ACTING OUT THE NATIVITY: Christmas Eve is a special night for us no matter where we are in the world. My favorite family tradition of Christmas has got to be acting out the nativity play on Christmas Eve.

We Buy a pre-recorded version of the Nativity play HERE and the kids all dress up.

It’s normally $9.99 but there is always a sale in December for $4.99

It’s usually noisy, and fun, and instantly reminds us what all this fuss is really about. It’s also something that I video tape and which gives us lasting memories 🙂

GRATITUDE CEREMONY: If we are alone, we go around in a circle, each of us holding an unlit candle. We take turns saying something that we are grateful for and as we do we light our candles one by one.

Doing our gratitude ceremony

SINGING: We make sure everyone has had something to eat and then we bundle up warm and go out singing to people. We sing to our neighbors, friends stuck at home, people we miss at church, people we love, people who are in hospital and anyone that comes to mind! It’s one of our favorite things to do, and we never put a time limit on our activity. As long as the kids are still having fun we keep going.

Singing to people we love


FEASTING: Finally it’s time to go home. We either go home and have a huge feast of yummy food that I’ve prepared before hand or we go to a friend or family members house and feast with them.

Feasting

HANG OUR STOCKINGS: Lastly, right before bed we hang our stockings.

CHRISTMAS DAY

When we lived on the other side of the world, and the only Christmas tree we could buy, cost us a fortune and the only thing we had to decorate it with was some tropical flowers 🙂

After celebrating Christ every day in December, I am always the most excited about Christmas Day.

By now our family has immersed ourselves in trying to think about, become like, and follow Jesus Christ and this is the day where you really feel HIS spirit in your homes and hearts.

STOCKINGS: Christmas Day the kids wake up and we open the stockings together. Since this is the only present they will open we like to all be there. 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JESUS: After stockings we invite a family over to celebrate Jesus’s Birthday Breakfast. We have a fancy cake with birthday candles in it and Eric makes us a delicious feast that we eat together after singing Happy Birthday to Jesus. 

WARTIME: After the breakfast we have a war of some kind (nerf gun war, silly string war, elastic war) This has nothing to do with Jesus, but the kids really like it!

CHRISTMAS SCAVENGER HUNT: Next we go on our Christmas Scavenger hunt- we have a pile of 25 pre-wrapped gifts and we always invite 2 or 3 families to join us. We drive around town doing the acts of service or giving out the gifts that are written on our lists.

Download the FULL printable Christmas Scavenger Hunt lists for Free HERE

Download the FULL printable lists HERE

LUNCH: After the Christmas scavenger hunt we come home for lunch. 

VISITING: After lunch we  bundle up again and go and sing and visit people. Sometimes we start visiting at 12 in the afternoon and don’t come home till 11 at night. There are no schedules or rules, we just know that It’s our time to connect with those that might be lonely or sad, or that we love. 

We skip Christmas dinner, although, many times while we are visiting people they invite us in and we eat with them. This is our favorite part of Christmas. It takes some courage to knock on peoples doors and just visit, but it’s always rewarding. 

Christmas night we come home, our bodies exhausted, but our hearts full. 

I have found that the best way to make Christmas special is by making sure we include good food, good friends, and service into all our activities. 

HOW THE KIDS FEEL

This is what some of our kids have to say about Christmas time in our home. 

For Christmas growing up we would wake up at the crack of dawn to open up our stockings that the Christmas angel would fill up for us then we would have a big breakfast with my 11 cousins. The house was bursting with people, so you can imagine how loud it got! With the smells of breakfast that dad was cooking in the kitchen, and the spirit of Christmas in the air, it was a very festive place.

After we had eaten our breakfast, we’d get all bundled up and go out with this Christmas Scavenger hunt basket full of things that mom had prepared beforehand. We would drive around town giving out hot chocolate and shovel driveways and of course sing to our old friends.

As a kid I used to wish that I could have a normal Christmas where Santa would come and bring us a lots of presents, and all we did was play with our gifts all day.

Now that I’m a bit older, I have learned that the true Christmas spirit is about family and service, and even though we never got worldly gifts we were gifted with the special feeling of having family and being able to serve others. I will always remember Christmas time as a beautiful time in my family

– Lizzie 17 years old

I remember one particular year when I was sitting in circle with the other members of my class. These were boys and girls my age, most of which I still felt uncomfortable around. The teacher asked us to take turns going around and telling what we got for Christmas. I was about 13, and was still in the midst of the great struggle of growing up. The kids started telling the wonderful things they had received. One of the boys announced casually that he had been given a brand new iphone.

I was super jealous, and started feeling self conscious, wondering what I was going to say. When it finally got to be my turn, I shyly admitted that I hadn’t received anything for Christmas. It was so embarrassing. My face went red and I remember this awkward silence that came over the group as they tried to act like that was totally normal. In this moment, I just wished so badly that I could have been like everybody else. But my parents never were, like everybody else!

There were definitely times I wished we could have had presents, mostly that is until we started doing service for Christmas. It meant so much to all of us that we were in a position to do the Christmas scavenger hunt and join with other families in doing service activities for other people. It became a tradition we looked forward to year after year. I wondered at first why my mom would spend money buying gifts and gas cards to give to other people instead of just giving her own kids gifts, but eventually I figured it out.

Something happened when I was busy serving, I was no longer thinking of myself, and the presents were the last thing on my mind because they weren’t what mattered.

The true meaning of Christmas has nothing to do with the presents, and I’m although it was difficult to understand when I was younger, I’m so grateful that I’ve had the chance to realize that now.

-Analaea 19 years old

We have been doing this for 15 years, and our kids really love it. Yes they ask why we don’t do Christmas presents, and I always tell them, because Christmas is about Jesus and not us. And they get it, and even the little guys are happy. There is no financial stress around Christmas time, even with our big family, and our entire month is rich with traditions, and fun that the kids look forward to all year.

This is the day, that your heart is filled with gratitude because of the blessings and sacrifices that our Savior made for us. On this day, you know what the true meaning of Christmas really is and why it feels so good to celebrate it simply and beautifully. You don’t miss the tinsel, or the presents, because HIS presence is so strong in your home and it fills you up!

I’d love to know what your favorite Christ-Centered Family Christmas Traditions are, or if you’ve ever tried doing Christmas without presents!

God, Galaxies & Socrates

So today the kids wanted to learn about galaxies. Since we’ve already spent a bunch of time studying Ancient Greece and Athens, I thought it would be a good time to introduce Socrates to them.

We found this great quote from Socrates, and it’s full size so you can print it out for your kids too 🙂

Lesson

A recent study by Australian astronomers says that there are 70 sextillion stars—that’s 7 followed by 22 zeros, or 70,000 million million million. Mind-boggling, isn’t it?
Using two of the most powerful telescopes in the world, these scientists surveyed one strip of sky. Within the strip of sky some 10,000 galaxies were pinpointed and detailed measurements of their brightness taken to calculate how many stars they contained. That number was then multiplied by the number of similar sized strips needed to cover the entire sky and then multiplied again out to the edge of the visible universe.
Only God knows exactly how many stars there are. The Bible says “He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name” (Psalm 147:4).
Say, if God can keep track of the names of 70 sextillion stars, don’t you think He can keep track of the details of your life as well? Thank Him today that He is bigger than any problem you face. Then go about your work trusting Him to guide you just as He guides the 70 sextillion stars in the sky.

https://www.guidelines.org/devotional/god-is-big-enough/

Videos to watch:

Who is Socrates?

(470–399 bc). Socrates was an ancient Greek philosopher. He is respected as a brilliant thinker and teacher with a great thirst for knowledge. Along with two other Greek philosophers, Aristotle and Plato, Socrates is remembered for developing ideas and thoughts that led to the Western culture that exists today.

https://kids.britannica.com/kids/article/Socrates/476319

Socrates was born and lived nearly his entire life in Athens. His father Sophroniscus was a stonemason and his mother, Phaenarete, was a midwife. As a youth, he showed an appetite for learning. Plato describes him eagerly acquiring the writings of the leading contemporary philosopher Anaxagoras and says he was taught rhetoric by Aspasia, the talented mistress of the great Athenian leader Pericles.

Did you know? Although he never outright rejected the standard Athenian view of religion, Socrates’ beliefs were nonconformist. He often referred to God rather than the gods, and reported being guided by an inner divine voice.

https://www.history.com/topics/ancient-history/socrates

Many people believe that Socrates believed in only one true God, although his peers at that time believed in many different Gods.

Activities

I bought a dozen donuts from Walmart that were already pre-made. This made the activity a lot easier to do with kids!
Then we made our galaxies:
1. Melt the white chocolate wafers over hot water in a double boiler, until no lumps are visible

2. Drop in a few drops of food coloring

3. Take a skewer and drag the color around the chocolate

4. Dip a donut into the top of the chocolate.

Note: We found that in order to get that bright pretty, swirly pattern, we had to continually drop color into the chocolate before each dip.

5. Sprinkle with silver edible sparkles

6. Cool donut & Enjoy!

Watercolor Galaxy

I printed out these on cardstock at full size and let the kids watercolor the backgrounds in a galaxy- they turned out sooo pretty!

Conclusion

I am so glad that you guys stopped by to learn about God, Galaxies & Socrates with us! Send us a picture if you decide to make your own galaxy donuts!

Carbon Dioxide & The Bread of Life

Early this morning our little troop of students showed up to learn about Carbon Dioxide and Jesus- the Bread of Life.

Our newly baked loaf of bread was the perfect object to keep the kids interested

First we started by talking about different chemicals, & chemical reactions.

The kids blew into their bowls to see how big the bubbles could go

I gave them each an empty bowl and had the following ingredients available:

  • Hot Water
  • Food coloring
  • Dish soap
  • Baking Soda
  • Vinegar
  • Citric Acid
  • Straws

We took turns combining chemicals to see what the chemical reactions were with each one. These are some of the things we talked about:

WE ARE SCIENTISTS: During these activities we get to think and act like real scientists. We are going to compare things, ask questions and make observations using our senses.

BAKING SODA: Did you know? A long time ago people used baking soda to help their bread dough rise? They also used it just like we use soap today. Baking soda is used in lots of foods that we eat. It’s also used to clean space ships!

CITRIC ACID: Did you know that citric acid is a substance that is found in lots of fruits and vegetables. You can find it in lemons and oranges and other citrus foods. All acids taste sour, so if you were to taste citric acid it also would be sour. Citric acid is edible, and used in food, so that’s why it’s okay to taste it, but other acids can kill you or burn your throat if you taste them or EVEN TOUCH THEM!

CARBON DIOXIDE: The fizz that is created when we combine these items is called Carbon Dioxide. Carbon Dioxide is a colorless, odorless gas found in our atmosphere. Its chemical formula is CO2, which means it is one carbon atom bonded to two oxygen atoms. It is a waste product in our bodies and is also produced by burning fossil fuels.

YEAST: Yeast is the thing that make bread dough rise. Yeast is alive all around us in the soil, in the plants and even in the air. Yeast needs sugar to feed it and warm water to make it wake up.

They got to choose several different elements and combine them together to see what they could make, or what chemical reactions they could observe.

So while we were mixing and talking about all these different things we also took a ziploc bag with warm water, some sugar and some yeast in it and sealed it. We wanted to see what was going to happen to our bag when the yeast ate the sugar.

Flat bag of yeast

We also started a loaf of bread. We talked about How Jesus is the Bread of Life. And it’s because of Him that we can be forgiven of our sins and become perfect like him.

The kids were HAVING SO MUCH FUN mixing their potions and learning from the science experiments. This part lasted at least an hour before I told them we need to clean up. Once we had, I put the bread in the oven and took the kids into the other room to watch some movies.

We watched THESE MOVIES ON YOUTUBE:

After the bread had finished baking, we checked on our ziploc bag to see what had happened. This is what we found!

Our bag of yeast after one hour!

I explained that as the yeast ate the sugar, it created a gas which was carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide made the bag blow up and feel tight. I was going to throw it away, but of course the kids wanted to wait until it exploded on it’s own!

Once all our things were cleaned up we ate the bread and read stories in the sunshine!

Time to share the bread 🙂

Rocks, Crystals & Jesus

Hello! I’m so glad you’ve stopped by! Today I’m going to share my lesson plan for Rocks, Minerals & Jesus. As you know, I like to bring in my faith to every lesson I teach to my kids. This is just ONE of the many reasons that I LOVE TO HOME-SCHOOL!

It was so cold and slippery out that even the school bus decided to stay home this morning. There was a cold blizzard blowing and I thought nobody would show up, but I was wrong! What it really meant was that we were delighted with lots of extra visitors. Anaya was glad because she doesn’t like being the only girl at my home school classes 🙂

Today was a perfect homeschooling day. I spent the morning gathering all the supplies that I have been collecting to start teaching the kids about 🌑 Rocks, Minerals and 💎 Crystals.

As soon as the kids saw the table covered in our precious rock collection, including diamonds and fools gold, they were pretty excited!

We spent at least an hour reading a million books about gemstones, and rocks and how they are formed. I had just been collecting books on gemstones from the thrift store since I decided to teach this lesson last week.

Whenever I’m doing my cleanup or preparation for the next activity, I put on YouTube movies so the kids can watch movies on how rocks are formed. Today we watched these ones:

*https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CeuYx-AbZdo

*https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BsIHV__voMk

*https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVy3dzLSMLg

After the movies, I sent all the kids on a rock hunt.

I printed out THIS rock identification table, and once the kids came in with the different rocks they had found we spent some time trying to match them up with what we saw on our table. I was completely amazed at how many rocks we actually found that were on the chart, just from searching outside!

After all of that we did some watercolor paintings of our jewels.

While they were painting I led them into a discussion about the apostle Peter and Jesus Christ.

I read this scripture from Mathew 16:18

“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Our Lord then declared to him: “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.”

I asked what would happen if the wind blew on grass, or a strong mountain. Obviously the grass would bend but the mountain would not. When we build our testimonies on JESUS CHRIST it’s the same as building our testimony on a rock. It’s strong and unmovable.

I love 😍 it when I can share my faith with these eager, and attentive kids. I think it really means a lot to them to be able to learn in such natural and normal ways, and I’m so glad that we are doing this together at home!

Peter P. brought his microscope so we were happy to check out all our rocks and crystals. It was super awesome, and we could even see the crystal formations in our pink Himalayan salt as well as our sugar. The best looking rock was our pyrite, or fools gold.

I love this little microscope because it’s super affordable, but really does a good job of magnifying things. Peter bought from discovery toys.

Afterwards we made Geode cookies with real glass candy crystals for our rocks, minerals & crystal lesson plan!

The older girls did some water color and we delivered some of the extra cookies to our neighbor who helped us the other day.

RECIPE FOR SUGAR COOKIES

  • 1 cup of Soft butter
  • 1 cup of white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 2 3/4 white flour

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Mix together butter, sugar and egg. Add vanilla, and then add baking powder & flour until everything is light and fluffy. Cook for 7-10 minutes.

RECIPE FOR ICING

  • 3 cups powder sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • Mix everything together with a mixer until it’s fluffy.

We first spread the icing over top of the cookies and then put them in the microwave for 10 seconds so they went really nice and smooth. Afterwards we used food coloring in a paint tray to paint our cookies and then we decorated it with the glass candy that we made.

How to make edible glass candy

RECIPE FOR GLASS CANDY

  • 1 1/2 cups of corn syrup
  • 1 cup of water
  • 3 1/2 cups of sugar
  • Once hardened you can just crack it with a fork or spoon by hitting it into desired size of pieces.  Once it is sufficiently hardened and cool to the touch, just crack it with the back of a spoon or hammer 🙂

Mix everything together in a pot over the stove and stir it until the sugar is dissolved. Once the sugar is dissolved and it starts to boil then DON’T stir! Leave it for 10-15 minutes until it’s a light caramel color or comes to 300 degrees if you have a candy thermometer.

We pretty much had the best time ever learning about Rocks, Crystals and Jesus!

Plus our house is now full of pretty cookies, pretty, candies, pretty watercolors and a lot of happy kids!

Leave a comment, and tell me how you relate Rocks, Crystals & Minerals to Jesus 🙂

xoxo

Beckyboo

After School Vistors

The smell of cinnamon buns was wafting through the house and making everyone hungry. None of the girls that were bouncing around my kitchen had ever had a cinnamon bun before, so we were excited to share them. Early this morning, when my little girls went off to school, they asked me if it was okay if they brought some friends home to play. Being the awesome mom that I am and never wanted to miss a chance to win points with my kids I enthusiastically said “you bet”!

A few hours later piles of kids poured through my front door. This was not a few after school friends! I was pretty sure they had brought the entire school home with them! The girls were giggling as they took off their blue and yellow uniforms and folded them neatly across tables and chairs. It was too hot to keep the uniforms on and most the girls had a change of clothes with them. After quickly stripping their skirts they ran down to the ocean with both my daughters in tow and splashed and swam. The radio had sent out an extra large wave warning, so the girls thought that was the perfect invitation to go and play.

Squealing, and screaming and laughing could be heard over the crash of the giant, frothy waves. I went down to watch them and make sure everyone stayed safe, but who was I kidding? These kids could swim better and further and than I ever would be able to. Swimming was like breathing, and they had been doing it since they were tiny.

I headed home and a few minutes later, the group of girls came back too. They were all shivering and cold. My girls quickly offered them a hot shower (most of which none had ever had a hot shower before) and sometime before my gas tank had been completely emptied of it’s expensive liquid, the girls all tumbled out. They wrapped themselves up in every dry towel I had and began to play basketball outside.

I was fascinated by the large group, and sat staring  out the window at them, not quite sure what to do. I had been expecting a few little girls to come home with mine and had made a little snack of cut up pineapple and watermelon for them to share but that was not going to do it!

I quickly thought up a plan, I’d do a cooking class. I told them all that today we were going to make cinnamon buns. They were delighted and threw the basketball through the hoop one last time before running inside. I tried to ignore the puddle of water all over the floor and the messy kitchen, telling myself that they wouldn’t notice either- so neither should I. I divided them into groups of 4 and  taught them how to make the tasty, sticky treat. I don’t speak Bislama very well, and they don’t speak English very well, but we did alright as I mimed and acted out exactly what steps happened next.

They stirred, and kneaded and rolled and sprinkled and cut until every pan I had was covered in cinnamon buns waiting to be cooked. Every girl there cooks on a fire in her village. None of them had stoves or ovens, so they were mesmerised by everything in the kitchen. Giggling each time I gave them an instruction or pulled out a new dish.

As the cinnamon buns cooked I told the girls it was time to clean up the messy kitchen. It had already been a disaster with dishes piled high in both sinks, before we had started and now it was even worse. Those girls only needed to be told once and they took their job very seriously. The counter was wiped about a hundred times, and each dish was washed, dried and within 20 minutes the kitchen was immaculate.

Little girls with frizzy black hair, and dark brown skin, sparkling white teeth and beautiful smiles were all being dropped off now that it was pitch black and drizzling with rain. I wondered if their parents even knew where they were today, or wondered what took them so long to come home from school, and I wonder what magic will happen in my house tomorrow!

The Bitterest of Bitters…Making Aloe Juice!

Today we went on a nature walk to find the aloe vera plant. I’ve been drinking the juice and it’s been helping me feel better so I thought I’d try making my own. Sure enough we found massive aloe plants and the guy who owned the property was happy to let us pick them. Here’s a little tutorial on how we made our aloe juice! Enjoy my video 🙂

 

Chocolate Covered Wisdom

The open market had a strange looking bumpy oblong shaped fruit and when we asked the lady sitting cross legged on the mat on the ground behind the table she said “it’s cacao fruit”.

We bought the four biggest ones for 50 Vatu each (equivalent to .50USD) and put them in our bulging market bag.

When we got home Monday night Eric had prepared a beautiful scripture lesson on the Lords timing. He invited everyone into the kitchen where we learned how cacao plants are planted, harvested and turned into chocolate.Image may contain: food

Without the proper timing and process, the cacao fruit which is a sweet fruit with bitter seeds inside, can never be transformed into the yummy chocolate we see at the grocery store.

The girls all gathered together, took apart the cocoa fruit, cut down banana leaves from the back yard and started the process of fermenting and drying the cocao beans.

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After separating the seed from its fruit you must ferment it for three days and then lay it to dry in the sun for three days. After all that you crush it and cook it and turn it into chocolate adding milk and sugar.

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I started thinking about it. Hmmmm.

I wondered to myself How many times do I judge other people or myself , thinking I ought to, or they ought to already be the finished product?

With faith in Gods purpose, plan and timing We can trust the process of growing and maturing and love people around us just as they are.

That’s my thought for today, enjoy your chocolate-we did!!