Imagine you’re at a party where everyone used to be dying. Only they aren’t dying anymore, they’re now doing just the opposite. Everyone here has a story about when their turnaround happened, and each person you meet is getting stronger, healthier, and more intent on living. You hear a woman say that she had almost given up hope, and was ready to lie down on the railroad tracks, but then something changed. God broke through with hope. Now, in this place and among friends, she testifies she feels confidence telling her neighbours she has HIV – and that her daughter is living with it as well. And although she was once sick, today she feels and looks strong, vibrant. Her life seems to brighten the room as she smiles.  Then a choir performs songs of rejoicing, and the feeling they sing is the feeling of shimmering gratitude for another year and another chance at life.

Days later, you join in the games of two hundred boisterous children, tossing water balloons, painting faces, playing ball and dancing to music. Little ones come holding the hands of their big sisters, eyes wide at the sight of a jumping castle, and a multi-coloured parachute with boys and girls playing around its edges. You serve them plates of food and hand out ice cream for dessert. You watch as the older children act out the story of the Nativity for the younger ones. Then, your ears covered, delighted screams erupt all around you as “Father Christmas” arrives to deliver a specially-chosen, brightly wrapped present to each child.

And then it hits you. These parties are not just about gifts or good food, or even these joyous songs. They are celebrations of time. They are milestones, marking faith for stronger months ahead. They hold the promise of years for raising children. They celebrate hopeful lifetimes of opportunity and purpose as young faces grow full and wise.

Christmas Party Photos

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HIV Support Group Christmas Party 2010

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