The Extended Bontrager Family Christmas Weekend

Here is a belated post of pictures from our rather legendary Extended Bontrager Family Christmas Get-Together. 
Sixty-eight Bontragers out of the seventy-four gathered for a weekend of celebration with family, food, and all-around good times. We are blessed with the best when it comes to family (on both sides) and we dearly love these get together days of feasting and fun! 
We eat very, VERY well. Always.
Grandmas fresh homemade bread. Loaves and loaves of it. With amish peanut butter spread and apple butter. Ooh la la....
Nineteen delicious pies of all kinds and varieties, were consumed in short order. 
All Bontragers love Grandmas pies-there are NONE OTHER like hers!
Time to dig in!
Gift exchanges for the little ladies...
...and the little men!
Cousin time is the best time!
Of course no get together would be complete without several rousing and energetic games of football for the guys.
Little Emma Kate is the latest addition to the tribe and since she and her parents hail from the far-away land of Texas, it was the first time for most of us to meet her. She was an instant success. =) 
Dutch Blitz...another Bontrager favorite!
Many good conversations happened all around...
Dinner time! The tradition for the evening meal is for everyone to bring various appetizers/snacks/special foods. Ah, SO GOOD.
This year, for the adults, we had a white elephant gift exchange. Oh goodness, what a grand idea that was. We laughed til we cried and stole gifts back and forth and found out interesting facts about how similar many of us are in all liking the same gifts. =)
Girls night together with all of the older girls.
Saturday night at Pizza Hut with the whole tribe!
A bunch of us cousins went out for coffee and conversation after pizza with everyone else. We crammed into this little room and there were so many of us that sadly not everyone quite made it into the selfie!
Beautiful ladies!


"Being a FAMILY means you will love and be loved 
for the rest of your life, no matter what."

Live Animal Christmas Play 2015 Recap!

Here is a "photo recap" post of the 2015 Live Animal Christmas Play!
You can purchase the 2014 LACP show dvd here on our website.

Our whole family once again had a delightful time being involved in this production. Along with our church family, we worked beforehand in various stages of costume design, set production, food prep, and music arrangement.

For the actual drama, ten of us (Dad, Mom, Chelsy, Mitchell, Allison, Joshua, Denver, Liz, Hudson, + Rebecca) acted various roles. Carson worked on the backstage crew, and Taylor worked in the animal department. Mom, Allison, and I helped with hair/makeup, and Dad worked as an usher. Mom + several of the boys were part of the hospitality crew that welcomed the crowds with hot chocolate, cookies, and candy canes.

All in all, it was once again such a joy to join with our marvelous church family to all work together (and work hard!) to do this play for JESUS and bless our community and surrounding towns/states by sharing the good news of the Christmas Story, brought to life through drama and music!

The play started out with a grand entrance (via the ceiling, of course) and welcome by Mr. Christmas!

A group of orphans (Liz, Rebecca, + company) were being cruelly chased through the woods and streets of London by three men and their dogs. (Mitchell + company)

A kind-hearted constable took pity on the children and rescued them from their pursuers
...and took them to the Bloomfield Home for Children, which was having its grand opening on that very day!
The children were in awe of the lights, gifts, beauty, and love shown to them by the "good people of Cotterville", and Miss Bloomfield.
After baths and clean nightgowns, the orphans joined Miss Bloomfield in the sitting room to hear the Christmas story....
...Which began with the prophets foretelling the coming of Christ, and a beautiful angel band musical. (that's Allison you see there as the flying angel)
Denver was one of the violinists on the side stage.
Denver, Allison, and I all enjoyed playing violin in this scene.
Dad + Mom played the part of Mary's parents. Above, Joseph is asking for Mary's hand in marriage.
(side note: Dad was in his element! We kids absolutely DIED laughing when we saw the lines he had in his script; those lines had literally been used before in real life, haha! 
He was pretty much made for this role =))
Mom did a marvelous job too! One of her lines (talking about Mary and Joseph getting together)
was something to the effect of "this would truly be a MIRACLE if it worked out" 
and it seems we have heard her say that before in real life as well. =)
Telling Mary the good news that Joseph was after her! Ahem, had "asked for her hand in marriage".

The market scene, and trouble on the way....
The townspeople, rising up in anger against the Roman oppression and heavy rule of the hand of their government.
(this was my favorite scene I was in. Such fun to have permission to lose your temper =))
(Denver on the left here)
Mitchell, Denver, Hudson, & I (Chelsy) all acted in this scene together.

Being reminded of the promises of God.

Later, the angel appearing to Mary.
Mary, trusting in the Lord that HE was able to work through her life to send the promised Messiah! 
The play would never be complete without a little humor thrown in there. =) Allison + her three partners in crime had the audience in stitches with their witty comments and even funnier expressions!
Another angel, appearing to the shepherds.
One of my favorite songs of the entire play, a solo by one of the men in our church, "O Holy Night". Sent chills down my spine every single time I heard it!
The powerful manager scene.
Mom was one of the angels in the manager scene.
The wisemen come, seeking the baby King.
Joseph and Mary flee to Egypt.
Trouble again...in the heart of the kingdom this time-Herod's palace.
Allison, the innkeeper, in a very dangerous position as you can see. 
(don't worry-there was lots of practice to ensure that all was done safely! =))
Sending the soldiers out to kill all the baby boys in the land....
The crucifixion scene. (that's Dad there in the middle, leading the mob) 
Several of us were in the mob scene. It was my first time to be in it; definitely a different role. 
You almost have to tune out of what you are doing because the whole thing is awful to think about, really-how people honestly did that to Jesus, and how you are portraying that. But as one friend said, "if we can do this to the best of our ability, even though it seems so wrong to be acting this part, it could be the means of bringing someone to Christ". 
Some of us females chose to exercise our loudest screams and wails to add to the live mob sound and I really did enjoy that part =))
Joseph of Arimathea and the burial of Jesus.
He is RISEN!!!
The centurion, realizing that Jesus took HIS sin and bore it on His shoulders, to the cross!
Crying out to Jesus for salvation!
Mr. Christmas, sharing John 3:16 and giving closing thoughts on how to have that "miracle of Christmas" in one's heart!
The grand finale choir song at the end, "Jesus Saves". One of my all-time favorites---such a joy to sing this song as the perfect closing to the play!
Our pastor sharing the plan of salvation-the true REASON for the season and the purpose behind the entire production.
Our five violinists, playing "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" for the offertory, 
siblings cooperation style. 
Its not every day you get to perform in your nightgown, Liz. =)


And that is a little recap of the 2015 Live Animal Christmas Play. What a joy once again to come together with our church and lift up the name of Jesus Christ! 

"And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, 
will draw all men unto me."
-John 12:32