Christmas morning at Brenna's. Simple presents like Trader Joe's trail mix and Mother's striped shortbread cookies were the big hits.
The view from Brenna's house.
Today is the kind of Christmas I LOVE...Being somewhere different, surrounded by my family, with the emphasis on Jesus, and not on the presents. Brenna and I (with help from others) made breakfast for her team (ten people), our family (+five), Jenna's family (+three) and Marijke's family (+four) for a total of 22. I love the noise, the confusion, the hubub. Having the house full and people eating is the best! We made cinnamon rolls from scratch, muffins, fruit salad, eggs and bacon. Yum! Brenna opened her Christmas stocking. (The other girls had theirs at home before we left.) We sat around eating and laughing. Many of the girls Skyped home. Lauren, whose family isn't coming opened her present in front of her computer so her family back home could watch. There's something surreal about getting a digital picture frame filled with family pictures and showing it to your computer when a cool pic comes up. "Oh, this one's great Mom. Remember when..." The technology really helps keep you in touch, but also pulls at your heart because you can actually see what's going on at home that you are missing.
There is no middle class here. There are wealthy gated neighborhoods, and poor slums. The shopping malls are huge, and fillled with high-end stores. Brenna's neighborhood is guarded by two men with huge rifles. In a way it makes me feel safe. On the other hand, it scares me that she lives in a country where she needs this protection. When I asked Brenna how the guards would know it was OK to let me in today, she said "They'll know. You're white." Oh.
We had lunch at this shopping mall yesterday. We actually ran into Salvadorian friends of the team's. She's made friends. Cool!
I didn't realize how little freedom Brenna has. She didn't know that there was a grocery store down the street from her house, because she never walks the neighborhood outside her gates. The girls aren't allowed to go out alone. Instead, the boys have to drive them everywhere. They ran out of flour today making the cinnamon rolls and Brenna couldn't just go to the store. The boys are such servants. They know the girls are completely dependant on them, and the lack of freedom chafes, so they always try to cheerfully get the girls wherever they need to go. It's inconvenient for both sides, but there is no complaining. Today when we made breakfast, all the boys pitched in cutting fruit, frying bacon, taking out the trash, and doing dishes. There are no slackers in this group. The girls reacted to the boys' present to them as if they had been given expensive jewelry: "Golden berry blend from Trader Joe's! Trek Mix! Granola!" The boys had sacrificed part of a cherished care package some friends had sent them. The ultimate gift.