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If your church would like to send presents for the kids, click the gift box below for instructions:
Make a donation to help us buy food and backpacks:
Signing up for tickets
1st Presbyterian Haddonfield packing bags and boxes
Absecon UMC packing bags and boxes
John welcomes the families.
The idea began in 1999, when Sharon Harvey realized that December in Chichicastenango is a pagan time. The "convite", a time for adults to dress in elaborate costumes and dance in the streets, begins the festivities that include partying and drinking. This continues as the fair comes to town, bringing vendors, rides and unfortunately, more drinking. Chichi is famous for its pre-Columbian tradition, "pole swingers", men who climb a 30 -40 meter pole in the center of town and swing down as ropes unwind. Most of these festivities are to celebrate the patron saint, Santo Tomas. Because of this month long celebration, many Christians didn't want to have anything to do with December celebrating. Sharon wanted the children who were coming to the clinic to know what Christmas is. Why do we celebrate it? Why did God send His only son to give his life for us?
So Sharon began gathering things left behind by teams and invited a couple hundred kids to the first "Fiesta Navideña". The families came because they wanted to find out what Sharon was doing, to be entertained, and to receive a gift. However this gave Sharon and the staff a chance to present the Gospel to them. The vision for the Fiesta Navideña was and continues to be that these kids and their families will know who Jesus is, why he came, and how he can change their lives.
The video below tells this story:
ASELSI begins to register families for tickets to the event during October, but in reality the preparations begin much earlier here and in the US. Families who visit the Father's Heart Clinic for the first time are given an ID card. Each year the color changes. So first to be registered for the Fiesta Navideña are the new patients for the current year. 200 families are permitted to register at a time, with tickets given for each child under age 10 to receive a present, and the families to receive a bag of staple foods. The age and gender of the children are recorded, and registration continues until the limit of presents has been reached. Usually we have ~1500 presents to give away. Families line up early in the morning on the days of registration, just to get a ticket to the party!
Meanwhile, we have 4 main churches in the US who help to make this all possible. Three churches collect items and prepare the presents:
∗ You can click on their names above and read the stories of how they got involved and how their congregations stay involved.
Gateway Church, Southlake, Texas provides the backpacks for the older kids. They also help us purchase the bags of food for the families.
Some of these churches plan all year to collect the items, pack them up and ship them to Guatemala. Most things need to be on their way by July or August. The churches also pay for shipping the boxes of presents.
Click on the gift box in the left column if you would like to send presents for the kids!
You can also make a donation to the Christmas Party via the Gift Catalog link in the left column.
As you can see in the above video, families camp out the night before to enter the event. Gateway Church sends a team to help the ASELSI staff get ready. They hand out coffee and bread to these families who are waiting outside the gates. The day of the event, the families are let in, first to the stage area. They will see a Nativitiy drama or puppet show, sing songs, be entertained by clowns, local church kids and the Gateway team. Gateway even brought a snow machine! They also hear a Gospel presentation given in their heart language, K'iché. Everyone passes by the prayer and evangelism area before receiving their gifts and food. Below are two more videos of previous years.