That's Christmas to Me: Cathy Pierce

Cathy Pierce: Panama

I am in charge of a program called Hogar Jucum, which is Youth YWAM.
We have indigenous young people live with us so they have the opportunity to go to high school.
They live in areas where there are no high schools.
I have 3 girls living with me right now. I have been doing this for the last 7 years.

Since I work with many staff volunteers, we usually have dinner on Christmas Day together.
We have many people from around the world, so we get to hear about many traditions that others have and get to eat food from other countries.

My favorite tradition is putting up the tree on Christmas Eve!
My family did it before that night, but I always liked to do it the night of Christmas Eve.

I love going to Christmas Eve service at church. It is a fun time to celebrate the special day of Christ's birth.

That's Christmas to Me: Deb Klawitter

R-L: Rob, Ally, Robyn and Deb Klawitter

R-L: Rob, Ally, Robyn and Deb Klawitter

Deb Klawitter: Harrisburg, PA
One of your roles in Lastleaf?
Fundraising! I love finding and implementing new ideas and ways to raise money for this amazing organization! I'm so happy to be a part of this team and it's mission!

One of your favorite experiences with Lastleaf?
Our staff weekends, planning the future of Lastleaf and encouraging each other. I'm very much looking forward to going on my very first missions trip this year to Panama. I'm so excited to see what God is going to do, both in me and through me during this experience. 
Your favorite Christmas cookie? Snickerdoodle!
Your favorite Christmas gift as a kid? 

When I was about 6 my grandmother gave me yellow plastic jewelry. I loved to dress up and look pretty. It was a yellow beaded necklace and clip on earrings, (as I was not allowed to get my ears pierced until I was 15) I was so happy to wear them, but boy, did they hurt my ears. I remember putting them on to go out Christmas Caroling after we opened gifts. I wanted to take the earrings off, but I dealt with the pain because they looked so pretty!
another story… Santa always left one unwrapped gift under the tree. One year I got a "flying saucer"! I loved to spend all day outside and sledding was one of my favorite activities. Our neighborhood was perfect for it. We wouldn't go in until it was dark, even if we were hungry or frozen. 
Your favorite Christmas carol? Oh, Come let us Adore Him!
Your most creative or crazy Christmas tradition?

Ever since our oldest daughter was one year old, we had Chocolate Chip cookies and milk for breakfast on Christmas morning. This year will be hard, but we are going to give it our best shot at a gluten free, vegan version of a chocolate chip cookie. We are determined to keep this tradition alive! 
We also now have four trees in our house. It seems as though we can never have too many trees. We always have one real one though, with the older family type ornaments on it. The others have their own color scheme or theme. The girls now decorate the family tree however they want. They are all their ornaments. They each get a new one each year, so that when they leave the house, they will have their ornaments to take with them. 
One of your favorite traditions leading up to Christmas? 
Decorating the house, usually starting right before or right after Thanksgiving. The girls have taken over these days, with making their own plans and ideas on how the house should look. It's fun to watch them get excited about it and be creative. 
Christmas Eve party with all the extended family getting together and catching up and playing games together. It means so much to the kids to see and play games with their cousins that they only see once or twice a year. 
What experience would you like to share that gets your heart into the real meaning of Christmas? 

Not really an experience, I just think often about the birth of my Savior and all that He has done for me and saved me from! I'm so grateful to have been redeemed and continue each day to be shaped and molded into the person He's created me to be! 

That's Chistmas to Me! Natalie Neubauer

Natalie Yvette Neubauer
Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia

Describe what ministry looks like in your life right now?
Currently I am helping with a school called the School of Music in Missions School.  I’m helping with the pastoral care side of things as well as getting them ready for outreach.  Every Thursday we play music in the city and talk and pray with people, and every Saturday we host an open mic night for anyone we’ve met.  I also have been involved with our skate team with our youth program, Youth Street. 

I applied for citizenship to Australia two weeks ago, and when I get it, it’s going to open up some doors for study. I’m looking into pursuing some counseling ministry in our mission.

What does Christmas look like in your house?
I live in a house that at any given point has at least 80 people living in it. This Christmas it will be around the 160 mark.  Though I’ve lived in Australia for ten years, I still can’t get used to our hot Christmas’s.  I like them-it just feels more like Fourth of July then Christmas.  On Christmas Eve, everything shuts down and we have a BBQ in the backyard.  Christmas morning everyone (all 160 of us!) attend the church next door.  We come back to the house and eat brunch and open our Secret Santa gifts (handed out by Santa).  For the afternoon everyone is either helping with making the meal, watching movies, hanging out with friends, or playing on the giant slip and slide in the back yard.  In the evening, we all gather in a big space and have a great meal and then a talent show. It’s usually two hours of some amazing talent, and some ridiculous displays by your friends. 

The 26th of December is my favorite part of Christmas in Australia, which is a British holiday called ‘Boxing Day’.  Everything is still closed, and in Australia, everyone heads to the beach.  We have a late start, go to the beach, eat lunch there, and finish up the holiday season. It’s nothing like the intimate, cold Christmas I grew up with.  It’s Christmas with friends which is a different thing but I’m used to it now.

What is one of your favorite ways to prepare to celebrate Christmas?
I really like getting people gifts and decorating.  A few years ago I got a bit blown away by how Jesus lets us celebrate his birth by gathering with people we love, eating really good food, and being generous to each other.  He’s amazing.

Your favorite Christmas tradition individually or as a family?
My favorite tradition is that my housemates and me usually buy gifts for the ‘guys’ flat down the road. We’ve all been friends for 6+ years and we get together and eat food and open gifts from each and from our families. It’s almost as good being with family. I think this year I’m going to gather and do gifts with a family I’m good friends with that have two little kids.

A meaningful or fun way to prepare for Christmas:  I think it’s important to take the time to decorate. My dad modeled that to me of how much it makes an impact to take time decorating and making the season special.