Mel and Amy have hosted a Christmas gathering for many years for those in JV that, for one reason or another, needed a home and family at Christmas. That gathering has blessed many over the years.
This year's group consisted of current JV team members, alumni, parents (from as far away as Los Angeles and Hawaii!), siblings and friends of JV team members, and children home for the holidays. Oh and one boyfriend of a child (in the Ellenwood family!) home for the holidays.
Mel and Amy provided turkey and mashed potatoes, and the rest of us brought our contributions to the meal we enjoyed together, and then it was time for the annual gift exchange.
And there are rules to this gift exchange! The rule is simple: handmade.
For some, like Mel who made this amazing slide guitar for Brian (from Divine Attraction, our Exit band here in Czech), that is an easy task...he's got a crafty side to him!
For others of us at the gathering, it's a stretch...but we do it! And oh how much fun it is to see what everyone else has come up with!
How about a clock for Mel, made from the hubcap of his old VW bus?! SO clever!
Or a very cool handmade "pour-over" coffee maker for Dave? WAAAAYYY cool!
|"Tyler, Lee said you'll teach dad how to do it - come soon!"|
Hannah Ellenwood used a really cool computer program to create this art project for Cory of two framed pieces showing a satellite image of LA and Ostrava, the two places he's lived.
The way the gift giving game works is that when you get a gift, you're the next person to give your gift. So after Cory (the lead of Divine Attraction, our Exit band) received his gift, it was time for him to give.
And I was his recipient!
Before I opened it he shared that he worked on this gift while on DA's Christmas tour across the country, as well as during times he prayed in the JV prayer room. I couldn't begin to imagine what it was....
Cory taught himself how to KNIT!!! And made me this absolutely gorgeous neck wrap that is so perfect, I can't even begin to describe how much I love it!!! To say I was surprised is an understatement! What a treasure from this dear friend of mine. I'll wear it all winter!
He said I should've seen him in the yarn store trying to talk with all the old Czech ladies as he picked out the yarn for this project! How I would have loved to see that.
THANK YOU CORY!!!!
Since I had just received my gift, I was up next for giving my handmade gift to the mom of one of our JV staff.
I harvested and dried lavender from Croatia, brought it home with us in December, and then made a syrup and gave her the rest of the ingredients for making lavender lemonade like I wrote about this summer!
I'm not the craftiest person in the world, but it was fun to give something that I'd worked on for a few months!
By the way, Dave gave salt cured olives that we picked and then cured from our trees in Croatia! Forgot to get a picture of that.
The awesome gifts just went on and on.
A beautiful handmade afghan ... an string art piece of the country of Poland.
A lamp for Lucka!
Czech bábovka, a special cake to welcome Austin to Czech (he's the boyfriend of Hayley Ellenwood who is here in Czech for the first time).
There were other special gifts like a photo imprinted onto wood of a picture that Claire drew while in Chicago, and had on her first apartment door there! Austin had tracked down the picture and made that for her.
There were many more gifts, but finally Claire was the last to give hers: a hanging rack that she painted the wood for, and made with fancy knobs that she drilled in. So pretty!
It was such a delightful afternoon and evening with these dear ones, full of laughter and joy as we ate and talked, worshipped with songs and carols, shared about what Jesus has meant to us this year, and gave our gifts. What better way to spend Christmas is there than that?!
People left when they had to, and some stayed until late (like us!) playing games and laughing till our stomachs hurt!
What an absolutely delightful Christmas Day 2017!!