The high level of political tension in Venezuela raised fears of violence, so schools were closed early. In fact, there was an apparent assassination, but nevertheless the elections took place and proved to be historic. Opponents of the current government of Venezuela won a majority in the national legislature for the first time in 18 years. We continue to pray for political and economic stability, and the peaceful and just resolution of the country's problems. Luz Maria continued her afterschool tutoring for most of the vacation period.
Following the baptism of Maria Rosales and the confirmations of Elias Montoya and Yaneth Torres on December 13, we celebrated Christmas Eve on Thursday, December 24; Christmas on Sunday, December 27; the Circumcision and Naming of Jesus on Thursday, December 31: and Epiphany (the visit of the Magi) on Sunday, January 3. Finally, we closed the season of Epiphany with the Sunday of the Transfiguration on January 17.
We follow the lectionary from "Culto Cristiano", a Spanish-language hymnal first published in 1948 and still published today by Concordia Publishing House. This is the historic one-year lectionary (although the Old Testament lessons are somewhat different from other versions of the lectionary that I have seen), which retains the three "pre-Lenten" Sundays of Septuagesima, Sexagesima and Quinquagesima (also found in the 1941 Lutheran Hymnal). The revised three-year lectionary omits them, continuing with Sundays after Epiphany until celebrating the Transfiguration on the last Sunday before Ash Wednesday (which would be February 7 this year).
Anyway, I was pleased with the attendance at these services, because the Christmas/New Year holiday generally is a time for most Venezuelans to head for the beaches or the mountains, or stay home and party, rather than attend worship services. The reason we scheduled some of our services for early in the evening before the appointed dates was to avoid interference by the street parties that begin late in the evening and last until the morning hours.
In keeping with the season of gift-giving, our mission was blessed with some donations. We received a shipment of Spanish-language Arch Books and other educational materials from LeadaChild, a missionary society that sponsors Christian education around the world. As soon as preschool classes resumed, I used one of the Arch Books to teach the children the story of 12-year-old Jesus in the Temple. Luz Maria uses the Arch Books every day in her tutoring. We also received a donation of textbooks from Fundación de Edificaciones y Dotaciones Educativas (FEDE), a Venezuelan foundation dedicated to improving education. Of course, we are grateful for the end-of-the-year financial gifts at our crowdfunding site.
We give thanks that the preschool playhouse has been restored after a bout of severe termite damage, due to the hard work of Luz Maria's grandson, Pedro José Santana. He also built a chicken coop, for we have been provided with chickens to raise, in return for sharing the eggs and meat.
May God bless everyone in this new year!