Day 1: God's Promise: The Greatest Proof of All from Prepare Him Room
* Reading: Isaiah 7:14
* Discuss: What does Immanuel mean? God being with us is the best gift ever given! Talk about how we can bless others with gifts over Christmas because God gave us the best gift of His Son.
* Song: O Come, O Come Emmanuel
* Activity: Bake cookies to give as gifts
Day 2: Angel's Announcement: Joseph's Dream from Prepare Him Room
* Reading: Matthew 1:18-25
* Discuss: Talk about how Joseph, like Mary, received instructions from God about the new baby. What was he supposed to name the baby?
* Song: Away in a Manger
* Activity: Read Jacob's Gift
Day 3: Fulfillment of God's Plan: The Word Became Flesh from Prepare Him Room
* Reading: John 1:1-5 & John 1:14
* Discuss: Meanings of Jesus' names: The Word, Jesus, Immanuel.
* Song: Silent Night
* Activity: Names of Jesus ornaments (page 3, 4, 5)
I am including resources for each country where Compassion works and am trying to link to Compassion blog posts, share videos and photos of Christmas celebrations, share recipes, give prayer requests and whatever else I come across that is pertinent. I tried to give some helpful resources so that you will be able to adapt the learning to your child's age.
We will be focusing on Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Nicaragua, one country a day for five days, since those are the countries where we sponsor and/or correspond with a kid or kids! My plan is to find each country on a map, talk about our kid(s) who live there, pray for the kid(s) and the country, and to look at photos or watch a video. We might try to make a dish too, if there is a Christmas (or celebratory) dish from the country that doesn't sound too complicated.
Dominican Republic: "Las Navidades runs from December 15 to January 6. A festive time when families get together. On Christmas Eve, families attend midnight mass and return home to eat their Christmas dinner. Jan. 6 commemorates the Three Kings who came to worship Jesus. The night before, children place boxes of grass under their beds for the Three Kings' camels. After the camels have eaten all the grass, the Kings leave presents in the empty boxes."
1) That families will understand the importance of their children’s education to ending the cycle of poverty.
2) For assisted children to stay in school and be successful in their studies.
3) For the protection of assisted children and their families during the annual hurricane season.
4) That caregivers will find steady employment and not have to send their children out to work.
5) That families will be strengthened and stay together in loving, supportive relationships.
Resources: Compassion's Dominican Republic page, Compassion's Dominican Republic Flickr Album, Dominican Arepa (we made Arepa this summer and shared our experience)
El Salvador: "Homes are decorated with elaborate nativity scenes that can fill a whole room, Christmas trees are decorated and children receive presents on Christmas Eve."
1) That families overcome malnutrition and intestinal and respiratory problems, which are the most common problems in rural areas due to lack of safe drinking water.
2) For reduced vulnerability of homes due to natural disasters such as floods, mudslides, earthquakes and volcanoes.
3) For healing for broken families that have been hurt by vices such as alcohol and drugs.
4) To end the violence affecting families. All urban areas suffer from violence and crime, but these are more concentrated in poor communities.
5) For foresight for children and youths, that they may see that joining a gang or engaging in illegal activities is not the only choice they have.
Resources: Compassion Blog: Christmas Celebration in El Salvador, Compassion's El Salvador page, Compassion's El Salvador Flickr Album
And here is one of our favorite muffin recipes from El Salvador from Extending the Table:
Guatemala: "Guatemalans decorate their homes with life-size replicas of nativity scenes, pine wreaths, poinsettias and fruit. Tamales are served on Christmas Eve."
1) That children will be rescued from malnutrition and will experience optimum physical development.
2) For God’s protection over children in situations of abuse, that their center workers will have the resources needed to restore a stable, safe environment for them.
3) That children will avoid the temptation to join dangerous gangs in their neighborhoods.
4) That caregivers will understand and accept their responsibility to protect their children from negative influences and harm.
5) For successful efforts by the government to control the drug trafficking, as well as the cross-border smuggling of animals and timber rampant in this region.
Resources: Compassion's Guatemala page, Compassion's Guatemala Flickr Album
Haiti: "Houses are repainted and tree trunks are whitewashed. Families attend church services and midnight supper, then children play in the moonlight."
1) That Compassion children will be able to make a difference in their communities through the teachings provided on hygiene and sanitation through the Child Survival Program and Child Sponsorship Program.
2) For Compassion children in the northern region, because many people in this area believe in and practice Voodoo.
for the Lord’s protection from death for those most vulnerable in this region, such as pregnant women, children and elderly people.
3) That children will be safe from flooding during the hurricane season.
4) That the children will be able to make a difference in their communities through the teachings they receive from Compassion programs.
5) That children living in polluted areas will be kept safe from all waterborne diseases.
Resources: Compassion Blog: Christmas in Haiti, Christmas in Haiti, Compassion's Haiti page, Compassion's Haiti Flickr Album, Christmas in Haiti
Honduras: "Hondurans celebrate with their families on Christmas Eve and rest on Christmas Day. Hondurans set up a nativity scene where they cover the baby Jesus with a blanket. On Christmas Eve, the blanket is removed to unveil the baby."
1) For children’s parents who are not Christians.
2) For children’s safety at home, as sometimes they are verbally and sexually abused by their own relatives.
3) For a source of income for parents so they can find jobs and provide for their families.
4) For registered children and their parents to persevere in Jesus’ path.
5) For children who come from single-parent homes and for children and parents who are traveling as immigrants to the United States.
Resources: Compassion's Honduras page, Compassion's Honduras Flickr Album, Honduras Food
Mexico: "Mexican children help make a nativity scene. The nativity is complete on Christmas Eve when the Baby Jesus is placed in the manger"
1) For health and strength as children help their families with home duties.
2) For children to be self-motivated to learn, study, thrive and work hard at school.
3) For loving and committed parents who do not abuse alcohol or use violence against children.
4) For loving parents and good home environments to prevent violence.
5) For safety while children attend school, walk to the program, and in their communities
that children will stay away from gangs, alcohol and harmful influences.
Resources: Compassion's Mexico page, Compassion's Mexico Flickr Album, Christmas in Mexico
Nicaragua: "Nicaraguan children celebrate Christmas throughout the month of December with contests, parties and games. The celebration concludes on Christmas Day when they receive gifts."
1) For the conversion of children's parents. The church wants to reach the whole community for God.
2) For the children's health, that they will be free from respiratory and skin ailments.
3) For improved finances of families and employment for parents of registered beneficiaries. Some mothers sell tortillas and some fathers wash trucks to sustain their families.
4) For the children who have no parents and live with relatives.
5) For the health of Compassion center staff, so they can continue serving the community.
Resources: Compassion Blog: Christmas Gift Giving Fun in Nicaragua, Compassion Blog: Christmas in Nicaragua, Compassion's Nicaragua page, Compassion's Nicaragua Flickr Album
All information about Christmas celebrations and prayer requests are taken from Compassion's website.