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Sunday, 25 December 2016

Las Posadas: we are happy to announce the safe arrival.

Christmas Day 2016

Las Posadas:What a party last night!


Things got a little raucous last night. Mary Joseph and the donkey met up with old friends and an evening of merriment and laughter ensued. ( Donkey's singing has not improved !) It was some night!!

Friday, 23 December 2016

Las Posadas: Donkey caught catnapping!


 Thursday 22nd December
We were very grateful to our travel consultant who very kindly dropped us off to our new host yesterday afternoon. We arrived to find our accommodation all ready for us, our very own house! Joseph and I were pleased to discover that there was even a crib in the bedroom!

Our host was busy checking her work emails and donkey was frightened by the four adopted cats that live here and started braying very loudly! so we decided to explore the garden, where we met more adopted animals, including guinea pigs called Rocko, Caramel and Butterscotch and two rabbits who had arrived just days earlier called Jack and Frost, they seemed very friendly and came over to chat to us.

Our host had to go to work but invited us to come along, so we set off on a very long car journey, we stopped briefly to look at the view from a very big hill and I was very relieved we didn't have to walk as I am getting very tired now.

After a long drive our host disappeared into a house and reappeared a while later, while we waited in the car, this happened several times throughout the evening, stopping at different houses, and we didn't get home until very late!!!
We had to get up very early this morning to attend morning prayer and there was a brief panic when donkey disappeared!! Where had he gone??
Luckily our host eventually found him, asleep with one of the cats!

After a short drive we arrived at a large church where we met yet another dog collar - there certainly seem to be a lot of them! He was very friendly and was very interested in our journey, after morning prayer we stopped to admire the huge Christmas tree which had a very large star on top of it, was this a sign that would lead us to Bethlehem?


Las Posadas: It's a GIRL!

21st Dec

A frantic message from the travel co-ordinator! "Have they been kidnapped?"
No! Following the Xmas sleepover and with 'no room at any inns' a visit to the House family!
I'm afraid here their adventures are not very exciting as we had to visit Dorchester Hospital for an arrival of our own! Our first Grandchild! While visiting they stayed here at home as we as we thought the midwife may limit visitors numbers! But they made use of their time looking after the dog & kitten! We are thankful of their help at this busy time!
On return they have been looked after by our son Nathan kept him company while on the sofa! 
We wish them a safe journey and hope that Mary's delivery of her own child is a wonderful one! 

Las Posadas: A Cub Christmas sleepover in the church!

20th Dec
After a brief period of being lost our trio found their way to St Mary's Winterborne Stickland where they found the cubs having a Christmas sleepover!
The first thing they did was to discuss Advent and light four of the candles.
Following this they tried bell ringing. This was a wonderful experience for all and we are all very grateful to the bell ringers who were brilliant!
They greatly enjoyed an Xmas singsong, singing carols and a cubs twist on the 'twelve days of (cub camp!) They loved the following Hot Chocolate and Cake especially Donkey who had seconds! These were special cakes celebrating 100yrs of Cubs and 30yrs of Beavers of who recently started in Winterborne Whitechurch and two of the leaders came along to help and enjoy the experience.
 They were also very lucky to enjoy as we were a visit from the Rev Alan Ryan and who popped in. Alan took time to took time to talk to us all flying through a 800yr history of the church and getting us all thinking. It all helped us to realise what a special place we were in. A prayer for us closed their visit. 
Mary, Joseph & Donkey enjoyed sitting down to an Xmas story written by one of the leaders before bed.
Some sleep or should that read 'Little' sleep was had and the next morning they were awoken to the smell of bacon & sausages! 
They then renewed their cubs promise as part of the 100yr celebrations.
12 o'clock came around all too soon and I'm sure that they were as sad as us leaders to see the cubs go home to their families to enjoy Christmas!

But what happened to them following the sleepover?

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Las Posadas: Lurking behind a tree.

Our travellers attended the Houghton carol service and (despite having to peer through the branches of a large tree) they enjoyed the children's shadow puppet show - They were a little confused because the story seemed to be about them. Donkey felt that he should have had a lead part!
Where did they spend the night? Who hosted them? Where did they go next?

Las Posada: Dancing, singing and ringing - it all happens with these hosts!

  Saturday 17th December  -  hosts Karen & Richard Marchant
We arrived in the evening when the ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ on the screen in the corner of the room had already started. We were given the best seats and Mary was so pleased that Ore won. Even I quite enjoyed the splendour of it all.
Donkey was not impressed that he had been shut in his box all day, but cheered up considerably when a splendid supper was provided.

Sunday 18th December  -  hosts Karen & Richard Marchant

We all spent a comfortable night and were looking forward to going to the Milton Abbey Carol Service. To get us into the mood, our hosts played ‘Twinkle, twinkle little star’ for us on the handbells. After the performance, Donkey thought he might have a go but, on closer examination of them, they were a lot bigger than he first thought!
We were taken to the Benefice Carol Service at the Abbey and turned out to be the guests of honour. We stood on the piano at the front and listened to some lovely music from the choir, the organ and congregation. The readings were telling our story – what a joy!

Donkey and I were very pleased to hear the Abbey bells peeling. Mary did become very tired and was glad to return to the tranquillity and comfort of out accommodation. The baby was restless and dancing and kicking to the music – just like Ore did on Strictly.
Monday 19th December and on our journey again to meet our next hosts at Coffee Pot.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Las Posadas: MISSING!

Hi Richard,
> Just about to message Harriett I'm afraid we haven't received them!
> I understood they were being brought to our cubs party last night,
> Regards Jay,

Dear Jamie
I was beginning to think that Mary had been rushed to the maternity unit  in Dorchester Hospital but apparently she spent the night in the back of someone's car, consequently hungry when they arrived. They watched the final of Strictly whilst we prepared something to eat.
Come to think of it, it's a good job that Mary didn't need to go to hospital otherwise Christmas Day might have been changed to the 16th December - that would upset the Christmas story, not to mention the shopkeepers!
Thanks for contacting the tour operator.
Best wishes
Richard Marchant

This was the panic this weekend - the travellers were last spotted enjoying the school end of term service but where did they go from there?!! Eventually the tour operated tracked them down and sent them off to their correct destination. A little ruffled, no doubt, but they seem to have quickly settled in with their new hosts.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Las Posadas:The days before.

Must be for me - there is a donkey shoe on it!
Saturday 10th December
This was Mary's favourite - I have to say it tasted
rather good too!

Donkey:          Well, off we went to Milton Abbas Church. Wow-eee, the change in there since we were taken by Dulcie to Choir Practice. It all looks sooooooo beautiful decorated with all those amazing trees. We were placed halfway up the aisle. This was a new Rev, the Rev Sue, who said halfway up was symbolic as we were still travelling!  The singing was good even though the choir sat amongst the congregation. There were quite a few kids and they so enjoyed placing the figures in the Nativity scene up near the pulpit. It was a little scary when the lights were all turned out, but peeping through the box it was lovely to see all the trees light up.

The Inn Keepers wife from Bethlehem was there. Three times she told folks about the Inn where we are headed. Quite a tale she recalled. Someone said she is quite an actress and I should have asked for her autograph, whatever one of those is. She gave Murray some bedding and ask him to help make up the beds and as for the dustpan and brush she gave Jeremy to help clear up after me! Well, I ask you!!! Someone ought to tell that Debbie that I’m house trained. Oh, and by the way, our friend Dulcie excelled herself on the organ. Joseph tried a little of the red wine, Mary only had the refreshments, and everyone forgot about me. Poor me. Rev Sue said I reminded her of a poem by Chesterton “Tattered Outlaw of the Earth”, or some such thing.             Fancy that.

Sunday 11th December

We spent a comfortable night with John and Sue. Mary enjoyed the Strictly Come Dancing on that screen in the corner. Evidently Sue loves it. She is rooting for Ore to win because she doesn’t watch East Enders. All double dutch to me. Breakfast was porridge and something called toast and marmalade. Great. Then it was off with our hosts to a different church. Something called a Methodist Church which was at Colehill. We were placed on the Communion Table, still in our box, and when the cloths were taken off the bread and wine, Sue released us.                                                                                                                            
The folks were all sat in a circle so we could see everyone and they could see us. I went sort of shy. I mean, I’d only just had my breakfast. But they were ever so friendly and wanted to know all about us and a group that called themselves Knitters said that they would be busy come the new year making replica’s of us. I didn’t like the sound of that, but Sue said that copying is the sincerest form of praise for the excellent job we are doing. I liked the decorations in that Church as well and they have a lovely cut glass window of a cross and dove. It was so beautiful I had to have a roll on my back to show my appreciation.                                                                                             
After lunch John is taking us to St Mary’s, Winterborne Whitechurch, where we are to be placed near the organ as arranged with Debbie our next hostess. I ask you, a Donkey’s life is never done. Perhaps I’ll have a snooze while I have the chance.

Las Posadas -

'Mary, Joseph and donkey arrived a little early for the carol service in Winterborne Whitechurch on Sunday so they wandered around the church and saw a tableau of figures that bore a strange resemblance to themselves. They couldn't understand why there was an empty manger that everybody was looking at or why there appeared to be kings with presents on offer. Feeling a little embarrassed that they had not got anything to offer they carried on looking around the church'

'They came upon a strange bit of furniture called a pulpit. Joseph said that he had heard somewhere that it was customary for somebody in a dog collar to give a sermon from the pulpit. They knew that they would be a service at 6 o'clock and wondered who was going to be the person doing this? Joseph said that he had heard that it was often a visitor who did it and as Donkey looked the most like a dog out of the three of them that it would have to be him that gave the sermon if no one else appeared. Donkey was petrified at the prospect and his legs started to shake. They were all very relieved when they saw people starting to arrive, especially Donkey. They moved back into the church where they could watch people coming in.'
 'All three of them stood and watched as the villagers came into the church and sang carols. The singing was lovely and the church looked beautiful with twinkly lights. They heard people reading from a book and it slowly started to explain the story about the people that they had come across in the crib.
Donkey's back legs had been shaking so much at the thought of having to speak out loud that he had to sit down. He thought he could hear someone mutter 'wonky donkey' but decided to ignore it and listen to the readers tell a remarkable story of angels, shepherds, and a new born baby.'

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Las Posadas Day 9 Donkey's Diary

Our host, Anne is surprised and honoured to be the first person in Houghton to give shelter to our family. She doesn't know much about looking after donkeys . Her daughter, in her teens, had a New Forest pony who was very independent. Will she think I am the same? Do far I have been quite happy to look out of the window with Mary and Joseph - watching the villagers go by taking their dogs for a walk. The dogs all wear collars and some have collars that light up at night. Have you ever thought about having one like that Mr Rev? I am sure your flock would appreciate it!

I think we shall have a quiet time today as Anne is not feeling very energetic.  She had thought about taking us to Bulbarrow to see if we could distinguish Glastonbury Tor and its Abbey. Legend has it that Mary' Babe  (yet to be born) visited there as a teenager with his great uncle - St Joseph of Arimathea. How wonderful if it were a fact!

Tomorrow we are going back to Winterborne Stickland to meet our next host in St Mary's Church.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Las Posadas Day 7 - Forgotten?!!!!!!

Joseph, a man full of God’s Grace.

Mary and Joseph and Donkey at the table, keeping warm by the Advent Candle whirligig .
Advent needed a little explanation !!
 Saturday 3rd. Thanks to the emergency hostelry at the Rectory – Mary, Joseph and Donkey were able to sleep in safety despite the intended hosts not arriving to pick them up. No satisfactory excuses – I forgot. When the Rector phoned, I was out at a concert. By the time I returned it was very late and I felt it too rude to phone. Happily the Rector said he would deliver Mary Joseph and Donkey to me at Clenston church.
  We were pleased to see Mary, Joseph and Donkey sat happily on the altar cloth and kept warm by the candles and with a good view of what would unfold at the service. A thought flashed through my mind as I sat at the organ.  The popular modern song “The Little Drummer Boy” has a verse wherein it says “ I played my best for Him”. I’m sure the congregation sang with their hearts too, it certainly was with feeling. After the service there were drinks and something to eat. Mary Joseph and Donkey seemed very content with that.

Upon arrival at home Mary Joseph and Donkey were placed by the Advent Candle; a merry-go-round with shepherds, sheep, kings and a camel and gifts.

Some old woodworking tools were in our shed and I placed these near our guests. Joseph seemed to be looking intently at these tools. I looked hard at Joseph and thought how gracious he was. We don’t know exactly what he thought at that time but he was determined to stand by Mary whatever happened. He had chosen to leave his job and work and friends to accompany Mary in a long and dangerous journey. I then heard myself asking Joseph if he missed his work and his tools. His reply went straight to my heart. He explained that the tools and skills he had were gifts from God, that he could make something new or he could mend things that were broken and both gave him and his customers great pleasure. That was his greatest reward, the pleasure from purposeful hard work, seeing other people’s joy.

He also explained that his ancestors had broken things. Among these were broken promises. His faith was steadfast in the belief that, given the right tools, all of us can always make amends. Looking at Joseph I could see the tools needed.

I wiped a tear from my eye and Joseph noticed. He said that being sorry was probably the first stage and washing ones eyes was a good way to see the light- the way ahead.

That made me smile. This honest, humble and dedicated man had read my hurt at letting him, Mary and the Donkey down the previous evening. He finished with such a gracious statement. “This is our path. We are glad to be here and your home is one we gladly share. With God, all will be well.”

I mouthed the words “Thank you”. It was all I could do. It was all that was needed.

The journey continues……..


Saturday, 3 December 2016

Las Posadas Day 5. A Donkeybox for the donkey?


A night at Mill House and then off to work at The Winterborne Horsebox Company in Stickland, where Joseph was keen to join his old mate George for a few hours to try his carpentry skills at horsebox building.

We thought about how much easier a horsebox would be for a while, but most of them were much too big for us.

 There was, though, one box which was just the right size for us and Donkey got very excited by the prospect of a horsebox (or, more particularly, a donkey box), which he thought would be a jolly good idea.

In fact he took such a shine to it that he sat in it and resolutely refused to budge until it was lunchtime and we managed to lure him out with some carrots.

             MARY  xx