Sunday, December 11, 2011

It's That Time of Year

The holidays are here and I have been thinking alot about what life would be like if we were living in the States right now.  I would be running around like a crazy person getting ready for Christmas: buying gifts for family, teachers, Sunday school teachers, neighbors, friends, etc.  I would have my house all decorated and there would be 5 inflatables in the front yard and icicles lights around the roof.  There would be lots of cookies to make and parties to go to and planning what to eat Christmas day and who to invite over. Somewhere in the mix would be a trip to North Carolina to see family.  It would be a fun time and I would be trying not to get so busy that I forget about what CHRISTmas is all about and to share that with my kids.  My kids, by the way, would be focused on presents and what they hope to get - sharks teeth and Lego sets.

This year is a tad bit different.  I used to have 8-10 plastic totes full of Christmas decorations, now I have 2.  The decorating process took about 20 minutes, not a whole day.  It's the 11th of December and I haven't made one trip to Target and won't (only because they don't have it here and if they did, I couldn't afford it).  I haven't ordered anything online and don't plan to buy any presents - except small gifts for families here.  When I asked Jon what he wanted for Christmas, his reply was a short pause followed by "I don't really need anything, I have enough stuff." Some people reading this just fell out of their chair because that boy ALWAYS wants a Lego set, ALWAYS.  It's amazing what happens to kids when they are removed from marketing media.  You don't want what you don't know exists. We will be going to one party and spending Christmas Eve with the other American families here.  Muy tranquilo - Spanish for very calm.  That's Christmas this year.  The craziest it will get is Christmas Eve when we hand out food baskets and gifts to our Guatemalan families and Christmas day when our team gets to visit 15+ families living in extreme poverty to tell them that they will be getting a new home next year.  It's going to be the best Christmas ever and we can't wait.

There are lots of videos and things going around the internet about how much Americans alone spend on  Christmas.  It's a crazy amount of money.  If just a little bit was given away, the world could be changed.  Really.  Doing all we do at Christmas isn't bad or wrong, but if we would just skip something small and gave that money away, people could eat, kids could have shoes or a warm jacket,  someone could sleep on a bed instead of a dirt floor or a piece of flea infested foam,  and the list goes on.   I live in a place where I see people with extreme needs that could be helped with just a little money.  We also help alot of people with "our" money.  If we can use our little missionary budget to help, so can you.  I think of how we lived in the States and how much we could have helped if only we knew the need.  I want to share the need with everyone I know so you can know it too and help.

How Others Have Helped-

Cruz (boy in the middle) gets help with seizure medication

This family got food and a stove (and a home too)
This family got a home, bathroom, stove and pila

  How You Can Help -

Go to 12X12 Love Project and donate money for a house, food, medicine, beds, stoves, pilas, etc.

Get friends, family or co-workers together to raise money for a new home, etc.

A Christmas Tree

Berta and her beautiful family

How many of you have Christmas trees?  You probably could hardly wait for Thanksgiving so the tree could go up.  I used to be that way but now that I live in Guatemala, I have adapted to the "no one is ever in a hurry to do anything" way of life.  So we waited a couple of more days.  Our last 2 Christmases in the States we decided to put up the old, fake tree we bought when Jack and Jon were little - the one we put up with kid friendly ornaments that they could mess up so the real one would stay nice, and use the money we saved to help a family in need (God started preparing me for Guatemala long before I knew it!)  This year, our dilemma was more about which fake tree we could afford.  They start out at "Is that even a Christmas tree?" and go to "There is no way we could/would pay that much for a plastic tree."  We looked around a bit and decided on one that was only $25 and I wouldn't have to sit on the floor to decorate.  Before we went out to buy the tree,  Mavelyn and Wendy came over.  They saw some of our Christmas decorations and we got to talking about Christmas here vs. the States and what people do etc.  We found out that they have never had a Christmas tree - not even a bush or tree cut from the side of the road.   We weren't completely surprised given that they live in poverty and trees are probably a luxury item for people but it made us a little sad.  Then they asked us if they could come over and help us decorate ours when we got it.  These girls have a hard time asking us to use our bathroom let alone ask us to let them help decorate our tree.  We decided to forget the tree we were going to get and buy one half the price so we could get one for them too.

Mavelyn, Hamilton & Josemar

We wanted it to be a special time so we made dinner and had pollo frito and papas (fried chicken and french fries) at their request since they don't eat it that often, another luxury.  It was a great time!  I can't tell you how neat it was to watch a 15 year old and her younger siblings decorate a Christmas tree for the first time. The best part was that we didn't tell them about their tree until they were ready to leave.  We gave everyone a wrapped "present" which were the ornaments and lights and let the oldest two girls open the tree.   It was one of those "Wow" moments for each of us.  I know trees aren't that big of a deal but it was a small way for us to brighten the Christmas for a precious family.

P.S.  Mavelyn came over the next day to tell us how much they love the tree and only turn the lights on for a few minutes at night so they don't raise their $5/month electric bill.


Carefully opening the paper so not to rip it

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Close to our house there is a property that has 3 "houses" on it - one for a husband and wife with a young son, one for their daughter and family, and one for the elderly father.  Chris had been there a couple of times to visit the daughter, Miriam, and talk about her house, we even went one time and took a friend visiting from the States.  Chris went again recently to see if she was in need of a new stove and got to talking about her family and her brother, Melvin.  All this time and several visits and we never knew he was there, in the other house with her mom.

Melvin is a 7-year-old but he is the size of a 2-3 year-old.  We are not sure what his disability is.  His mom said he was born normal but later got sick and was never the same.  There isn't much that can be done for him but he is precious.  After meeting Melvin and his mom, Chris remembered her coming to our house several months ago asking for help for her disabled son.  It must have been a crazy moment or day because he completely forgot about it but God didn't.  He has a purpose for us to know about Melvin and now we do.  A few days after meeting him, a group of people, who help and pray for disabled people in our pueblo,  came to our door asking if we would join their group.  They visit the families and pray for them and try to get whatever help they need although there aren't many resources.  We learned that there are 71 disabled people in our community and Melvin is one of them. 

It's funny how sometimes we can miss things that are right infront of us but God can bring them back again.  We are glad he brought Melvin back even though he was right there all along.