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Nativity in Cochabamba

Blog Headers 2023-24 (11)

Editor’s Note: During the Christmas season, lay missioner Victor Artaiz describes the nativity scenes from his ministry sites and how they capture the simple joy of the Nativity.

In spending my 2nd Christmas here in Cochabamba, the peace and simplicity of the Nativity really came into focus for me.

In my ministry at El Abra, a maximum security prison for men, we are blessed to have a Catholic chapel. In the chapel, a beautifully lit nativity scene adorned one side of the altar. The scene was constructed and put in place by prisoners in honor of celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. Although phones and cameras are not allowed in the prison, photos were allowed to be taken of the serene nativity setting.

At a hillside neighborhood of Cochabamba called Los Molinos, our family ministry celebrated the forthcoming Christmas by constructing nativity scenes. Over 15 families brought their nativities to the grounds of our small chapel to both share their work and enjoy a day of refreshments, dancing, music, and prizes. It was a wonderful event that brought out the spirit of neighborly accompaniment in sharing beautifully detailed results of loving construction efforts.

The omission of experiencing shopping stress and materialism truly brought out the joy in celebrating the birth of Jesus throughout the weekend’s Mass celebrations and community festivities here on mission. It was a Christmas I will hold dear in my lifetime.

Questions for Reflection: What do you appreciate about your nativity scenes? How do they inspire you to contemplate the Nativity?

After a 30 year career in international business and serving communities in Kenya and locally in New Haven, CT, Victor Artaiz is grateful for the opportunity to serve and accompany individuals living on the margins in mutuality and simplicity through FMS’ Overseas Lay Missioner program. Victor's ministries in Cochabamba, Bolivia, include addiction recovery services, accompanying men who are incarcerated, and serving meals to people experiencing hunger.