This past weekend I had the privilege to deliver our Angel Tree gifts. There was a bit of a snafu when we accidentally switched two family's gifts, but all was put right in the end. Our family has participated in Angel Tree for years (they have this in Singapore too!), but this was the first year I had ever delivered the gifts.
One of the houses was in a "bad" area. We drove up to a tiny double. The one side must have had only three rooms, but we saw at least five people come out of it! There were double doors and double deadbolts. A five year old boy with a shining face came running out yelling gleefully, "My presents are here! My presents are here!" The grandmother invited Ana and I in. In the living room had a couch, a t.v., and the most pathetic Christmas tree I had ever seen. Think Charlie Brown tree, but purple. It had no ornaments or presents. It was about three feet tall and set directly on the floor.
Now I know Christmas isn't about the decorations or the gifts, but I wanted to cry right then and there. Here was a grandmother taking care of her grandchild and other assorted relatives. They had as close to nothing as you can get (in America). Giving these gifts gave me more pleasure than any other I will give this season--because they were needed and gratefully accepted.
Mitike, Ana, and I also went caroling to two shut-ins from church and a nursing home. All we did was sing and hand out paper stars with a Christmas message on it, but again the pleasure in receiving the smiles was priceless.
Take time this Christmas to reach out to the poor and neglected. You'll leave recharged and full of the true Christmas spirit.
I snapped this picture after the first frost. I was amazed that something so damaging could be so beautiful. Then I got to thinking...frost is a natural occurrence. I think that my life should be "frostless." But difficult times are just part of life. Some people seem to be able to live a pretty sheltered, uneventful life. But, is that life?
The inner city definitely is NOT my comfort zone. I struggle at times here--sometimes I want to leave, BUT I am growing and learning and being challenged. That's life. I think I'll stick around and see what else God has to show me.
Ana tried on my wedding dress the other day. (My mother in law kept it for me all the years we were overseas!) She declared that she loves it and will wear it at her wedding. I hope she remembers this when she gets a little older!! At least I have this picture for the slide show :)
So I finally downloaded some photos off my phone... I'm so far behind it will be impossible to catch up! But, I will share the highlights. Ana was asked to me the flower girl in our pastor's daughter's wedding. She had lots of fun getting dressed up and walking down the isle!
The ring bearer was also from our church. They had a lot of fun together while they were waiting!
We tried a fancy hair do. Her hair was so long, it didn't stay in that well. Oh well!
The academy at Shepherd is at least 85% Hispanic. Because of this there is a real need for ELL instruction (English Language Learner). My time overseas and my returning Spanish should aid me. I'm enrolled at WGU (Western Governor's University) in the ELL endorsement program. I'm really excited about the way the program works. You pay by six month terms. If you are motivated and accomplish a lot in the six months, you are not charged any more tuition. There are no cohorts and group projects. Wish me luck! Hopefully within a year, I will have finished!