Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Christmas Festivities at Qwanoes - The Fall Season Comes to a Close

Hello everyone! The last couple weeks at Qwanoes have been an amazing time of hard work and Christmas celebrations. The students just left today on their Christmas break and we have many stories to share from our last moments together in our fall season of the Kaleo program. We wrote to you in our last post just as the lectures for Gospels with Wes Olmsted were finishing. The days that followed the students were all busy prepping essay outlines for their final exam and studying hard with all the content they had to memorize. They really came together working as a team and helping each other study and review the immense amounts of material they had to review. Just before the weekend we went to the famous Ladysmith light up together. It was a fun night with a parade and fireworks!

Some of the students stopping for a picture waiting for the parade to start.

Andrew MacDonald with his super cute daughter Aubrey!
Andrew and his wife Jenn also have another girl on the way expecting her very early in the new year. 

The evening after their final exam there was an optional viewing of The Passion of the Christ, a film by Mel Gibson. The gospel message and graphic imagery struck deep for the students who had just spent so much time studying the life and ministry of Jesus. Although its painful to watch, it served as a helpful reminder in the Christmas season of what Jesus mission coming to this earth was, showing just a glimpse of the price he paid to reconcile us to Himself. 

The following was our big Christmas prep day. We spent the morning making our own creative decorations and listening to christmas carols. It was fun to see each student put their own flair and personality into their decorations. We then had our last Qwanoes community lunch of the fall—the staff-student relationships that have been forming over the semester have become a integral part of the students experience here at Qwanoes. 

Sharon and Stephanie making ornaments out of dough!

Later in the afternoon we packed up in vans and headed to a tree farm to pick out our very own tree! 

This is a slightly hectic task with 23 students, but after carefully inspecting many candidates they managed to settle on a beautiful tree! We took turns cutting it down and then brought our prize tree back to camp. 

We then proceeded to paint and decorate our ornaments that had been in the oven while we were away. We strung the lights and put our ornaments on the tree while drinking hot chocolate and enjoying each others company. Setting up a tree is usually something done with ones family in their own home. For most this was the first time they have ever put up a christmas tree with a majority of people they had only met 3 months previous! As a guest in the room you would have never guessed that most of these students didn't know each other just months previous—a huge testament to the family God has been developing here in the program. 

The next night after a day of paper writing we had an amazing Christmas banquet enjoying a turkey dinner and awesome desserts! After the banquet we had our annual talent show! These sort of things can always be a toss up, going into it many were not sure what to expect only aware of what they personally had put effort into preparing. Its safe to say everyone who attended that night was blown away by the amazing different pieces staff and students had put together; there was beautiful singing pieces, parody songs written by the students, skits, movies and comedy acts! (there was even a presentation on blue whales!) It was amazing what the talented group was able to pull off given the busy season of academics they were in. A new standard has been set for the Kaléo program talent show.

A photo of the students and Aubrey at the Christmas banquet!

After a day of paper writing we spent an evening hanging out separately as guys and girls doing our own activies. The ladies had a surprise cooking contest. They had to compete against each other with the ingredients they were given and make do with some interesting surprise ingredients as well! It was incredible what some of them were able to pull off with ingredients like goat cheese and hot peppers. 

A few of the different groups working together in the contest.

The guys played some games in the afternoon and then spent the evening on Mt. Prevost to watch the sunset. The guys finished off the evening with an awesome meal in the town and a game of Laser tag in the dark across the camp property.

Yesterday we closed off our season together with a Kaléo Christmas morning and mug exchange around our beautifully decorated tree! Each student had brought a mug that represented themselves and we played a fun game unwrapping the mugs,and stealing them from each other in a typical gift exchange fashion. After an awesome morning the rest of the day was spent putting in the last finishing touches of their final assignment for Gospels. The last assignment, can you believe it! They worked so hard right to the very end and I speak on behalf of the leadership team in regards to how proud we are of all of them. 

It was hard to say goodbyes today but excitement was still high as everyone was looking forward to spending time with their families back home. We have been blessed with such an amazing season so far—it is crazy to think that this chapter has already come to a close. God has been doing some incredible work in the lives of his disciples here and it has been an amazing blessing to see his handy work happening right in front of us. We are expecting the big things God has in store for our next season together. We hope you all have an amazing Christmas and may you encounter our incarnated Lord with your friends and family in this season of celebration. 

Until next time,