Today as I was listening to music I came across a song called “The Heart of Christmas” by Matthew West, I became overwhelmed. The holidays without family is really hard. In my 36 years I have never spent this long without seeing my mom and my siblings. Some days it feels like part of my heart has just been misplaced. But when I hear that song I get to see how this Christmas, this year has been so very special, it fills in that gap just a little bit.
Last year with just arriving Christmas was focused on making sure our kids still had a Christmas and didn’t feel so misplaced. This year it has been filled with our whole family coming together to make Christmas special for some very special people in our lives.
For the last several months Luke and I have had the wonderful privilege of teaching a preschool class once a week to orphans and kids that live in the village, I will post a blog about it soon. It has been a joy to see the kids and how they just can’t wait to give you a hug, just because you took time to spend time with them. There are around 140 kids that attend the preschool. We teach 80 kids one week and 60 kids the next. Even though there are a lot of them we wanted to do something special for them. As a family we stuffed 150 bags filled with a car, a dinosaur, a bag of chips, and some candy.
When we handed them the gift I thought, “Wow they don’t seem to really enjoy it. They aren’t even opening them.” But then I realized that most of them were holding this gift like Gold. They didn’t tear into it, they just held it with smiling eyes. For that moment I feel like God touched them with the gift of knowing that they are greatly loved.
We also still go to a local orphanage of around 30 kids on a weekly basis and continue to teach them about the love of Christ. We really wanted to do something special for them so we had them write down the 3 things they wanted most for Christmas. We thought we might spend a dollar or two to get them one of the items. When Luke and I got home, we read the lists and we broke down in tears. We were expecting things on the list like toys or special items to place in their room, since their rooms are bare. But on the list there was not a single kid that wrote down a toy other than a soccer ball. They all wanted school backpacks, shoes, clothes, and food. Luke and I prayed about it and decided to spend a little extra on them then we originally planned.
The next few weeks we spent finding the best prices on as many of those items as we possible could. This was an experience in its self that is filled with many stories. We filled the bags with as many things in those price ranges that we could, plus candy and toys for the little kids and journals and notebooks for the older children.
December 20th was the party. Mark and Luke had worked hard coming up with special games and Mimi and I baked lots and lots of homemade cookies for them. That day was a day of joy. That day was a day that I really realized that Christmas is about giving. God gave his only son, Jesus, to save us, so in remembrance of that we should give to others.
The kids laughed and sang songs and had so much fun for those 3 hours. Then we passed out the gifts. They were overwhelmed with joy. Some of the kids were saying that they have never owned a new pair of shoes. They again quickly took their gifts back to their rooms as if they were treasures from the Lord.
We received this thank you from the director at the Grace of God orphanage. We wanted to post this because we may be the hands and feet here but without everyone’s prayers and giving we could not do what we do. So take this thank you as something that you are a part of also.
“We would like to express our gratitude for all your hard work and the relationships between your family and Grace of God’s children plus staff. You have inspired taught and encouraged, you guys have lived life with us and we know it takes a lot and that’s why we are thankful for all you do for the ministry God has called you to. It has been a wonderful year. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! God bless you!”
Wherever you are, no matter how far, I pray this year you can remember the reason for this blessed Christmas. Maybe you could spend it with family, Maybe you couldn’t. Maybe you got gifts, maybe you didn’t. Maybe you had power and water or maybe you didn’t. But I pray no matter what you remembered the Heart of Christmas.
“Wherever you are, no matter how far
Come back to the heart, the heart of Christmas
Live while you can, cherish the moment
The ones that you love, make sure they know it
Don’t miss it, the heart of Christmas”
We fly out December 30th (a day early). Pray all goes well with check in etc.. Pray for Miriam’s anxiety it is high right now. Continued protection over sickness.
My dad has cancer in his colon. His surgery is on January 3rd. Pray they can get it all out and that his body heals fast. I am not sure if I am able to see my dad this trip due to having baby Aaron and due to the surgery, he will have no time off. So right now I am treasuring every single moment that I have had with him. Again this helps me remember what is truly important and to cling to our Lord with all that we have.
Merry Christmas and we can’t wait to see as many of you as we can.