We hope this little 5 min video will bring a smile to your faces - it did to ours whilst we were putting it together, remembering all the fun we had over Christmas. We hope you all had a lot of fun too.
It was also a very humbling Christmas as we were reminded just how blessed we are and how much we are able to bless others because of what God has given us. We saw this at the Christmas party we had at the drop-in centre for the street kids - for whom Christmas is often just another day of stealing and scrounging. Many of the street kids stood up in front of everyone to thank God and us for the drop-in centre and for all that God had done in their lives. Some of the street kids even organised a 'secret Santa' in which they bought (we think!) gifts for each other and the staff too!
The two families who joined us on Boxing Day to eat an almost (!) traditional English Christmas dinner, were families who God has given us a big love and burden for recently.
The first family is Eli and her children Samuel (8) and Edith (2). Many of you have probably heard us talk about Eli in the past. I (Helen) have known her since 2001 when she was still on the streets, and have been able to share parts of her journey since then - which has definitely not been an easy one. She has been having a particularly tough time financially recently, and in addition has been treated very badly by the lady she works for. Her mother bounces between not talking to Eli and rejecting her, then accepting her back with various conditions and expectations. So for her and her kids staying a couple of days at our home in a safe, spacious, environment, with plenty of food, was for them luxury and indulgence, though for us we normally would take all these things for granted.
The second family were a mum and her three kids whom we have got to know recently. The father was away over Christmas visiting his own mother who is old and ailing, and the rest of the family couldn't afford to go with him. The whole family have had a really tough time recently and the little boy (2 years) has been in and out of hospital with unexplained fevers. It has all taken a toll on the mum who is sufferring severe depression at the moment. So God put them on our minds when we were thinking of who else to invite, and again it put everything else in perspective just to see the joy and excitement on the kids faces when they were with us and when Steve dropped them off in the rough neighbourhood where they live.
So although we desperately missed family this Christmas (we all felt it more than we have ever done previously I think - Nisha included), God then blessed us in an amazing way by showing us how He wants to bless others through us - and that was the best gift of all.
We spent Christmas day speaking to most of the members of our families though, which was really special. And of course we have Steve's parents visiting us from the 18th Jan til the 6th Feb, and Steve's sister Jess coming from 1st til 15th Feb. So we're 'werry werry excited' as Nisha would say!
One of the main events leading up to Christmas was Steve's trip to USA where he had 18 meetings in 8 days - the purpose of which was to share about the work of MEFI, raise it's profile and raise more funds in order to get the project to a more stable place financially. All the meetings went really well, and in fact we are already seeing a lot of positive fruit from some of the contacts he made. One church have made a substantial donation to fund the construction of a second level on the drop-in centre, which will enable us to develop and expand the programme further. There are also 2 teams planned for the beginning of the year (one for Feb and one for March) and 4 or 5 teams planned for the summer to come and help with the construction work. So 2013 is already looking very exciting, we're just waiting to see what God is going to do next!!!
We hope 2013 fills you all with excitement and expectant joy as well, we look forward to hearing all your news!