Hello dear friends and Merry Christmas,
We have much to tell you, although many of you were there to see it firsthand. December 3rd was the Big Event, our final 40th anniversary celebration, and it was beyond “all we asked for or thought” it could be.
Our eight acres were filled with children and families, activities so many that no one could have participated in them all, vendors and partners, Santa and the Grinch … a farm animals area reminding us of the first family, Mary, Joseph, and the baby.
If you missed it, please try to connect with this celebration vicariously through this newsletter. We missed you if you couldn’t make it.
A few things I wanted to reflect on with you. The first has to do with remembering. All year, beginning in January (2022), we have been planning events and then opening doors for them. Each had a specific focus, allowing us to recall this person, that program, that partner and what became of them all. Our history!
Remembering is something God has asked us to do. (And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years … Deuteronomy 8:2) When we remember, our faith is fortified, God is revealed as the Father to the widow and the orphan, the rescuer, the provider, the ever present help in time of trouble. And we tell the stories. For a whole year, we have been remembering.
The second has to do with honoring. We wanted so badly to thank everyone whose handprint is on this place, in this mission. Each event, we knew just who to elevate, name the work they had done and create an award for them.
There was the “Manny Esparza Award,” “The Old Man Marley Award,” “The Miracle on Fillmore Award,” “Champion” awards and Founder medals. Each person or couple, each story, each servant of God has been integral to how we name these 40 years. The stories of those that were presented with awards brought tears to our eyes and huge joyous smiles to our faces. Thank you God for these amazing people.
The last has to do with the rain. Spending almost a year planning and preparing for the biggest party of our lives, it was surreal to welcome rain as part of the celebration. But we did.
It’s hard to know, at this point, but it didn’t seem like the rain kept anyone home. It certainly didn’t dampen our spirits. For those of you that don’t live in Phoenix, can I remind you that it never rains here? And it never rains all day, well hardly ever.
So our entire campus, filled with activities, decorations, tents and lovely tables, stages for live performances, food venues, fun, life and people all existed anyway, and we literally didn’t stop for a drop of rain or a puddle, or for a second wish for a different kind of day.
Our hearts and hands were open to the provision of the Lord for our sun scorched, drought laden land and for the blessing that rain represents. The rain made it feel like winter and Christmas.
Please keep a look out for videos, pictures (I hear there are over 2000), the 40 stories videos and booklets and whatever else is coming out from this event.
Meanwhile, we bless you dear friends for coming alongside on this journey all these decades. We couldn’t be this place without you.
You are loved.
The year is soon coming to an end, but there’s still time for you to send a gift that qualifies for the Arizona Charitable Tax Credit. Individuals can claim up to $400 and married couples can claim up to $800 in tax credit, which means every dollar comes back to you! If your tax credit contributions have already been met, please consider becoming a monthly donor. And if you’re sending your gift by mail, please make sure it’s postmarked on or before December 31.
Thank you for your generous heart!