Isn't this lovely? It was a surprise gift today from my Spanish friend Cati as a Thank you for the support I have given to ASADIS this year. It was so unexpected and it really gave me a lift and made me smile. And it was good to have something to smile about today as it really has been a pretty dismal day, with rain on and off all day. It is raining heavily again now and with no gutters on our houses out here (they are rarely needed), it is making a dreadful noise as it pours off the roof onto the concrete below.
In fact the excessive rain I wrote about last week has continued through this week, and shows little sign of stopping yet. Today the weather centre has issued a red warning in some areas near here (red means 'possible risk to life!), and I think we are orange. They predict torrential rain from 10.00 tomorrow until Sunday night. That doesn't bode well for us as we drive to Almeria at 10.00 tomorrow to collect our grandson from the airport. He is coming over for two weeks, so I am hoping he is coming more to see us than to enjoy the weather!!
But life is not all doom and gloom and in fact this has been a fun filled week, with plenty to distract me from the elements outside.
When I printed off our church newsletter a couple of weeks ago, I asked everyone to try to bring a donation for the food bank, and maybe include something as a treat for them. We always have a box out for donations and about once a month we divide everything into as many parcels as we can and deliver them to Zurgena Town Hall, partly to help those most needy in the area, and partly to show the Town Hall how grateful we are that they let us use the church building for our services. Normally we manage around sixteen parcels, but we know there are forty families in need on the Town Hall list, and twenty of them are in extreme difficulties, so we were delighted by the response from the people at church, and we managed to make up twenty three parcels, with the basic foods such as pasta or rice, oil, dried or bottled beans etc, and canned meat or fish, and then every family were also given around five treats of sweets, cakes or biscuits, and a Christmas card with a written greeting from the church. A team of workers spent Monday afternoon sorting all the food out.
Then on Tuesday morning, it was taken up to the Town Hall and given to a member of Zurgena council to distribute to the most needy families.
At the Town Hall, one of the group took these photos of their Belén that I thought I would share with you. Out here, the Nativity is not usually represented by just the stable as it is in UK. Instead they build an elaborate scene depicting the stable as a small part of it, and all aspect of normal village life is portrayed around it. So this is fairly typical of any Christmas display in a public place, and I have seen similar ones on the patio of private houses too.
They posted the photos on our church facebook page with the caption "When we delivered the food donations to the Ayuntamiento, Zurgena, on Tuesday, we were just captivated by the amazing Belén (Bethlehem). Made by local boys whose parents work at the Town Hall, it represents a beautiful journey into Bethlehem, so many wonderful details. A busy little town, with Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus nestled into their stable amidst the everyday bustle. Shepherds and Kings kneeling in worship as pigs roll lazily in the mud nearby. Shops are open and children play. Goats roam the hillside. It really is wonderful".
It must take a lot of time and effort to construct such a complex scene. During November and December there are shops that just sell the figurines for the Belén, and people may add one character or animal to their scene each year. I dare say some are handed down through the generations.
Here are just a few more details from the scene. I think the first one is the stable, but I am not certain.
On Tuesday evening I was reluctant to go out into the cold and wet, but I had promised to go to our Intercambio group, so off I went, and I was cheered to see the village Christmas lights were on. The little angel outside our house is very bright and sparkly. I love the little LED lights they use now.
The lights change every year so we think they are hired, and each year it is nice to see something different. But they are always in the same place. I am glad we get one just outside our house. They come up on all the lamp posts from the bottom of the road, and we are the last one. But there is one new light up this year, in the centre of the plaza. It is a tall thin tree, and again it is very bright. I can see the top foot or so, and the star, from the back of our house.
After our house, there are banners of lights across the street, and they too change each year. This year they have lots of colour on them and they are very pretty. You don't see decorations or lights on many of the shops, so we enjoy ours, and I think our village does very well for such a small place.
Wednesday was my busiest day because as well as my usual sewing group in the morning, we then had our group Christmas dinner at a local restaurant. During the morning we had a special visitor who distributed gifts to us all.
His helper is Selina, the lady who organises the group with her sister, and she makes everything such fun.
Later we moved on to the restaurant and enjoyed a lovely meal together.
I think some of them stayed for quite a while longer, but I had to leave before four o'clock, because that night it was my choir's "Friends and Family" concert. I had to get changed and be ready to go out again at ten to five. Chris came to it, and we collected my friend on the way too. We were free to invite anyone we wanted to, but we were quite taken aback when 200 people turned up to listen to us. So although it was a little more informal, it was almost like a theatre concert after all. We managed to find enough chairs and fit everyone in, and here we are getting ready to sing.
Oh, and here am I in full voice.That's what you get when you leave your husband in charge of your camera!
If you would like to hear what we sound like, click on this link, and if you only want to listen to little bit, start around the 3.00 minute mark when we start the second song. It was quite daunting when we first saw the music, and a challenge to learn, but by the end we all enjoyed it.
Yesterday I just had an appointment for a haircut and a quick visit to the doctor for my usual repeat prescription, and then I was prepared to "batten down the hatches" for the day, but in the end I went to see another choir giving their Christmas concert in the evening. Cati has been unwell and had a major operation recently, but the concert is an annual event where the choir raise funds for ASADIS, so she wanted to go, and she asked me if I could take her. So we went to see The Rose Singers. They are a small, women only choir, and I was looking forward to listening to them.
They were very good too, and gave us a lovely evening of entertainment, and plenty of opportunities to join in with some community carol singing. I have to say, I like the depth of sound that the men's voices add to our choir, and as you can see in the picture above, the Rose Singers felt they needed that too for a couple of numbers, so they co-opted some of their husbands to help them out!
There was a charge for tickets for this concert, and also a raffle with lots of lovely prizes, and at the end of the evening they gave Cati 1,000€ for ASADIS. So I was very glad I was able to take her along to receive it in person, and to help her explain to everyone what she does with the money to help the disabled children in our village and the surrounding area.
Sadly, today I also had to venture out into the rain to do some much needed shopping. But when I got home from that, Chris took us out for our lunch. Since then I have managed to clean the house and bake a cake, so I am just about ready for my grandson's visit now. And I have finished writing this blog on the dot of midnight (Spanish time). We will have to get up early and see what the roads are like. We could be swimming to the airport if this keeps up! Needless to say, there are no pictures of sunrises or sunsets this week. But who knows what next week might bring.
So now I will link up with Rocking your World, and Annie's Friday Smiles. I am sorry it took me until yesterday to visit some of you last week, but I will try to do better this week. The damp weather is not doing a lot for my arthritis, and the pain killers I take seem to steal away my 'get-up-and-go', so everything takes longer to do, that's if I can find the motivation to do them at all! But I only take them when I absolutely have to, so hopefully I will be more switched on this week. I don't expect there will be many people posting next week, but I will try to do my usual weekly update. But in case I don't:
Here's wishing you and your families a Very Happy Christmas, and a Healthy and Peaceful new Year.