In Guatemala, Christmas is traditionally celebrated with close family and friends on Christmas Eve, or “Noche Buena.” At Oasis, we enjoy an evening together eating a turkey dinner (with turkeys donated for each of the individual houses) and the traditional helping of tamales. “Ponche,” a warm cider beverage made with various fruits, is often the drink of choice.
After this traditional meal and fellowship, we take time to worship, followed by a number of fun and engaging games and activities. Each of the houses prepares and performs a short Christmas skit around a preselected theme, such as Santa’s Wacky Sleigh, Super Hero, and Disney. The house that is voted the winner receives some fun treats and movies to enjoy on Christmas.
Before midnight each girl from Oasis and Casa Ester receives a stocking filled with small gifts and an individually wrapped gift. At midnight we all gather to enjoy the customary display of fireworks. Across the dark horizon, fireworks splash across the sky like camera flashes in a dark stadium attempting to capture the defining moment of a championship game. After the fireworks display, everyone greets each other and returns to their home. Christmas morning is celebrated by taking things slow and waking up later than the usual 5:30 am!
For young girls rescued from abuse, Christmas at Oasis is a much deeper experience – a place where they can be children once again, secure and valued as a person rather than as an object for exploitation. This is what Leslyn, 18, says about Christmas at Oasis:
“I am very thankful for this special time that we set aside at Christmas. I really enjoy every moment that we spend together because we receive gifts and that makes me feel very joyful. I remember that God gave His only Son to die for us. Before, I thought about my Christmas gift and every year I was eager to receive it. But now that I see things better I am also grateful for all of the people that organize these activities with love. They are very special to each of the girls that make up Oasis. And even though I always miss my family, I always remember that God put Oasis in my life not only to help me grow spiritually but also to always be united as a family. [My favorite parts of Christmas Eve] are enjoying the “ponche” (fruit cider), tamales, and the midnight display of fireworks — and these are the moments that I treasure in my heart.”