CERES -- Last year 15,000 people went to Grace Community Christian Church in Ceres to see what Mary and Joseph did on their trek to Bethlehem before the first Christmas.
After 22 years of presenting the "Journey of Bethlehem" to thousands, the church thought their performance might be in jeopardy following the theft of their costume trailer.
"I just don't understand why people would steal from a church," said Lilly Carr.
That question remained unanswered after three months of investigation.
Carr was sad that another little girl would not be able to wear the same villager costume she first wore in the program when she was 3. But thanks to the open hearts and willing spirits of volunteers who stepped in, citizens living in the time of Ceasar Augustus were dressed their best to tell the story of a savior.
"For about two months we had sewing days. The first two sewing days we had people from the community," said "Journey to Bethlehem" Director Tammy Hott. "This room was packed full of tables and sewing machines. I think we had 25 sewing machines in here at one point."
Despite the stiff odds that were up against them, Grace Community Christian Church's 200 actors were committed fully to presenting their guided, 13-stop tour.
"At the end, I get to hear how many lives we've saved and how many people have learned about God and the true meaning of Christmas," Carr said.
You can see "Journey to Bethlehem" just two more nights this season: Friday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. If you are in line by 9 p.m. you will get to experience the journey. Actors stay until 1 or 2 a.m. to make sure everyone who wants to hears the story. And everything is free.
It takes about $15,000 to pull off a season of "Journey to Bethlehem" so Grace Community Christian Church is always accepting donations.
Since the disappearance of the costume trailer, the church has had a wall of closets built inside to house the newly-made garments indoors.