Tag: Christmas

Sep 19 2011

How CFCA projects worldwide celebrate Christmas, part 2

Pravalika, sponsored child in India, at the CFCA Christmas celebrations

Pravalika, right, a sponsored child in Hyderabad, India, participates in the CFCA Christmas celebrations.

Virginia, a sponsored child in Guatemala, displays her tamales and bread at a CFCA Christmas celebration

Virginia, a sponsored child in Guatemala, displays her tamales and bread at a CFCA Christmas celebration.

Previously we interviewed several CFCA projects around the world about last year’s Christmas celebrations for sponsored friends and their families.

Here are the answers from eight projects: five in India, and three in Guatemala.

How do you select the types of gifts for sponsored children?

Bhagalpur, Chennai, Delhi, Dumka and Hyderabad projects, India: We asked the mothers groups what they would like as gifts for their sponsored children, then gave them what the majority of the mothers had requested.

South, Chiquimulilla and Solol· regions, Guatemala: Clothes let our sponsored children dress nicely and help raise their self-esteem.

Gifts such as schoolbags also help contribute to our sponsored friends’ economic well-being.

Many times our children feel sad or unfortunate because they do not have the opportunities that others have, and we feel that they deserve some happiness during these holidays.

Cookies, chocolates and sweets for sponsored children are treats that they can share with the whole family.

The snacks (tamales and soft drinks) are given to sponsored members and their families to share as a community and also with other sponsored friends from different villages.

They enjoy many activities, such as artistic performances by sponsored members and CFCA staff, breaking of piÒatas, contests and raffles.

The CFCA Christmas Fund provides opportunities to encourage the true spirit of Christmas, peace, love†and unity†for our sponsored children and their families.

The financial resources of our families are very limited. Parents would like to provide an annual gift for their children, but usually this is not possible.
Read more

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Sep 12 2011

How CFCA projects worldwide celebrate Christmas, part 1

Even though it’s only September, it’s never too early to start thinking about sending your sponsored friend a Christmas card! Because mail can be slow, we recommend scheduling six to eight weeks for a letter to arrive at your friend’s project.

We interviewed several CFCA projects around the world about last year’s Christmas celebrations for sponsored friends and their families. Here are the answers from three projects: Merida, Mexico; Santa Ana, El Salvador; and Bogota, Colombia.

Sponsored children select their own gifts in a CFCA Christmas celebration in Bogota, Colombia

Sponsored friends buy their own gifts during CFCA Christmas celebrations in Bogota, Colombia.

How do you select the types of gifts for sponsored children?

Merida: When Christmas approaches, one thinks about cold days coming. Those lucky enough to live close to family take this time to meet, and those who are not as close spend time with friends. The point is to spend time with those around us.

But while this season fills us with smiles, snow, warm clothing and abundant food, Christmas is a moment of reflection. Christmas is the date when Jesus Christ was born.

Christmas is a moment of humility that fills our hearts, but not with chocolates, stuffed turkey or Christmas carols. We must open our hearts to peace, love, happiness, contentment, and give back for all the blessings we have received. Read more

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Sep 9 2011

How can I make Christmas special for my sponsored friend?

Ask Sponsor ServicesQ. How can I make Christmas special for my sponsored friend?

A. You can write a special message related to Christmas to your sponsored friend, perhaps with a family photo or card.

(A new feature this year is to send an eLetter once you’re logged in to your online sponsorship account!)

Another option is to donate to the CFCA Christmas Fund.

One hundred percent of your donation goes to provide Christmas celebrations and gifts for all children and aging friends in the CFCA program. Many of our projects also include families of sponsored members in the festivities.

Donating to the CFCA Christmas Fund is a very special present and is easy to do. Donate online, call Sponsor Services at (800) 875-6564, or use your remittance form from your sponsorship receipt.

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Dec 29 2010

Advent reflection: Modern pilgrims find a star worth following

Larry LivingstonHere is the last of the Advent-Christmas season reflections from Larry Livingston, CFCA church relations director. We hope you have learned from and enjoyed these as much as we did!

ìWe saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.î (Matthew 2:2)

One of the most interesting things about the brief account of the visit of the Magi in the Gospel of Matthew is what is not included. For instance, we arenít told where the visitors came from, how many there were or anything about their backgrounds.

Legend has it that they were kings and that there were three (because of the three gifts), but that is all historical embellishment. Matthew didnít seem to think such details were important.

But he did think other things were important, such as the fact that these travelers were seekers of truth and were willing to go to great lengths to find it.

Another major point is that, while the Magi were prominent enough to receive an audience with King Herod, they werenít caught up in the trappings of wealth and influence. When they eventually did find the Christ-child, they saw past his humble surroundings to honor him for who he was.

CFCA mission awareness trip

Sponsors during the September 2010 Kenya/Uganda mission awareness trip attend a parade led by the Shangilia childrenís band. The sponsors are wearing the traditional Masai regalia.

And, while Matthew doesnít share exactly what land the visitors came from, he does emphasize that they were foreigners.

Perhaps he deliberately left out any reference to a particular country because he wanted them to represent all nations and peoples, but one thing is certain ñ the Gospel writer wants us to know that these foreign gentiles were among the first to recognize the Messiah.

So, while we may not know a lot about the Magi, what we do know is profound. They are defined not by kingly trappings and power, nor even by gold, frankincense and myrrh.

In the end, the Magi matter because they hungered for God and were willing to face any obstacle in order to know him. They truly were îWise Menî (if, indeed, they were men!) and they set an example that holy pilgrims have followed for more than 2,000 years.

The CFCA community has our own holy pilgrims. Each year, more than 700 people, most of them CFCA sponsors, travel from the U.S. to visit our projects in the 23 countries where we work.

Like the Magi, they too are seekers. And, like the Magi, they find life-changing truth in the humblest of surroundings.

In spending time with sponsored friends and in witnessing firsthand the work of our project staff to help families and communities lift themselves out of oppressive poverty through CFCAís Hope for a Family program, these travelers behold the same wonder that the visitors from the east beheld 2,000 years ago ñ God truly dwells among and within the poor of this world!

It is good news that begs to be shared wherever people yearn for a star worth following.

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Dec 22 2010

Advent reflection: Share the good news of holy families

Larry LivingstonEvery Wednesday during the Advent-Christmas season, we will post a reflection from Larry Livingston, CFCA church relations director. We hope these reflections help you on your own journey through Advent.

ì…let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body.î (Colossians 3:15)

A poor young couple is expecting their first child. The authorities tell them to leave their home and travel to an unfamiliar, far-off village.

When they arrive they can find no decent housing and are forced to settle into a ramshackle outbuilding.†There, with animals milling about and nothing but straw to insulate them from the chill of night, the young mother gives birth …

You know the rest of the story. It is a tale we have grown to cherish at this time of year.†It comforts us to hear it over and over again as we connect once more to Christmases past and the manger scenes of our childhood homes and churches.

It is the story of the Holy Family.

But it is also the story of other families, hundreds of thousands of them the world over.†They too are powerless against the whims of government. They too must rely on whatever shelter they can find for the sake of their children. They too struggle against displacement and weather and challenges most of us will never know.

And they, too, are holy.

Yamini and her family

Pictured is the family of Yamini, right, a sponsored child in Hyderabad, India.

At CFCA we call our sponsorship program Hope for a Family. We didnít choose that name just because we liked it, but because it reflects two important truths we have learned over the years from sponsored persons.

The first is that hope liberates people to dream and inspires them to work hard to make their dreams come true.

The second is that the best place for hope to thrive is within the family.

This is good news and we want to share it.†Like the Gospel writers who shared the wondrous accounts of Christís birth, we want to let people know that God dwells among the poor and the marginalized of this world.

And, again like the Gospel writers, we want to invite those who hear us to become part of an amazing story.

Ultimately, the story of the Holy Family is one of perseverance in the face of great challenges.

It is a story of love between husband and wife, parent and child. It is a story of trust in Godís goodness, and reliance on the kindness of other people.

And it is a story with a happy ending despite the harshness of the journey.

The CFCA community celebrates this story. It is our story as well.

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Dec 20 2010

Make a cup of traditional Guatemalan hot chocolate

Chocolate has been part of Latin American culture for 2,000 years. Today, most Latin American cultures serve hot chocolate with tamales during the Christmas season.

In Guatemala, Claudia Mariela and her family live in the community of El Chocolate, so of course, chocolate is part of their lives.

Claudia is the mother of six children, three of whom are sponsored in CFCA’s Hope for a Family program.

Watch this video of Claudia Mariela making Guatemalan hot chocolate, then try making your own using this easy recipe.

Hot chocolate (makes about 2 quarts)

  • 2 7-oz. bars of drinking chocolate (brands such as Ibarra and Abuelita can be found at Hispanic markets)
  • 2 quarts of water
  • Cinnamon sticks (optional)
  • Milk and sugar (optional)

Bring the water to a full, rolling boil.

While the water is coming to a boil, chop up the chocolate or grind it in a blender or food processor. This will help the chocolate dissolve faster. You can also just add the chocolate as is from the box.

Add the chocolate to the boiling water. Stir constantly until the chocolate is dissolved.

Add milk, cinnamon sticks and sugar according to your taste. This chocolate is so rich that you don’t have to add milk.

Lower the heat to medium and continue cooking until well blended, about 15-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve piping hot with tamales. Make your own Christmas tamales.

Want to know the story behind the CFCA mothers group who run a chocolate-making business? Click here to read more.

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Dec 14 2010

Unique Christmas tree ornaments gain CFCA sponsors

Want to share the good news of CFCA this Christmas season?

CFCA volunteers Stan and Dorothy Hubbard did just that at an alternative gift fair recently. They used a red tablecloth and sign provided by CFCA, but they also went one step further.

After scanning photos of children from the folders we sent them, they made the photo into a matching Christmas tree ornament, which was hung from a tabletop Christmas tree on their table.

Whenever someone signed up for sponsorship, the new sponsor got to take the matching ornament home to hang on their family’s Christmas tree.

CFCA Christmas ornaments

Stan Hubbard operates the gift fair table promoting CFCA.

The children who were sponsored at that fair have just received an awesome gift this Christmas ñ food, clothing and access to education!

Here are Dorothy’s instructions for making your own ornaments featuring your sponsored friend:

1) Purchase inexpensive, clear plastic acrylic ornaments from a local craft store.
2) Remove (carefully) each picture from the respective folder.
3) Duplicate each picture using the “copy” function on a printer (she did 6 pictures to a page).
4) Laminate the pages. (This step may be unnecessary; Dorothy did it to preserve the photo.)
5) Cut out each photo in the shape of a circle.
6) Roll the cut photo into a cylinder shape and insert inside ornament. A bamboo stick can be used to straighten the picture.
7) Tie a red ribbon in a bow and add a small silver bell.

CFCA sponsors, we appreciate your comments! How do you remember your sponsored friends during the Christmas season?

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