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I don’t know how you feel, but I know my own feelings about Christmas.  First off is the fact that my family never celebrated Christmas in a big way.   We were too poor to afford gifting, and with no electricity, the home was just the same as usual.  Our tree was usually the top of one of the old cedar trees that grew along the fence line.  It smelled good and was decorated with garlands of popcorn, which we made ourselves.  Mother only had about 12 colorful balls and kept them carefully from year to year.  We always had a big dinner with roasted duck or goose along with bowls of mashed potato and delicious homemade mincemeat pie.  I usually used the one dollar given to me by my father to buy a nice frilly handkerchief for my mother.  That was it!  O yes, there was always Christmas taffy and candy, kept in the south room where there was no heat.

On Black Friday, I chanced to go to the local Walmart to purchase a small round table cover for our shoebox display at the Place of Hope Gifting Tree at Covenant Church.  The sight was unbelievable.  At eleven o’clock at night the store was literally jammed with shoppers pushing carts that were stacked with purchases they had made, toys, special gifts, and the many bargain counter items.  I could hardly move and couldn’t find a clerk to help me with my simple purchase of a red table cover for my display at the church.  When I finally made it out through the checkout, I felt suddenly free,  “FREE AT LAST.”

xmasblog1aThen I thought about my “Gifting Tree Project” that would begin the following Sunday at the church.  Would anyone stop by to help me to provide a Christmas Gift Box for our children at Place of Hope?  I had prepared 60 cards with their pictures on the card, and the tree was decorated beautifully with these shining faces of our orphans there at POH.

TO MY UTTER SURPRISE, people began to circle my Gifting Tree, and before service time was over, had stripped every one of the 71 cards from the tree, promising to bring a shoebox with a pair of sneakers and other gifts which we would give as special gifts to each of these deserving kids at Christmas.  I found myself wanting to go personally and be a part of this special time.

THEN I THOUGHT ABOUT the scores of children who live outside the walls of our campus at Place of Hope, living in families where parents had no regular jobs and little income, whom had never, ever, one time received a special Christmas gift. Suddenly, my heart began to ache and tears flowed from my eyes.  I had to somehow provide gifts for these children. So I emailed my Haitian son Andre, founder of POH about my idea and he thought it was a great plan.  But how was I to pull this off?

Then, after the service was over at the church, a couple, new to Covenant Church, came up to me to talk, asking me what they could do to help. I began to relate my vision of gifts for the village children surrounding Place of Hope.  To my amazement, they told me they wanted to take this project and would provide me with 40 shoeboxes, filled with new sneakers and other gifts, plus they wanted to pay for all the shipping charges we might incur.  That afternoon, they went shopping and returned with 40 gift boxes, all filled and wrapped, ready for shipment, plus a check for $450.

I spent Monday packing all these boxes ready for shipping.  Then I thought about staff members at Place of Hope in Haiti, so I made xmasblog2cards for all 19 of them and hung them on the tree.  They all disappeared in the hands of donors.   Even my special friend “BIG FOOT” one of our cardinal helpers at POH campus, and the first convert from the villages outside our walls, has a big shoe box with size 14 sneakers in it along with special gifts, so all of our workers, who are angels of mercy there, will have special gifts.

IN ADDITION, MANY more boxes came in, along with more gifts, which will go to my second Deaf School at Keriah Medical Center, where many children are waiting for gifts.

I DON’T KNOW what it will be like, but I can only imagine the joy and happiness as village children receive a specially boxed Christmas gift from donors here in America.  THEIR VERY FIRST BIG CHRISTMAS GIFTING party!   These gifts will all be given out by father Andre, and the pastor of Hope Church there on the mountain.   It will be the best Christmas and the most spiritual act ever done in that area, and all in the name of Jesus. This Christmas will speak volumes about God’s infinite and everlasting love as we reach out in mercy.

SO WHAT’S MY MESSAGE?    I t is a message all about the joy and love that is wrapped up in the form of shoe boxes filled with gifts, going to nearly 200 children in Haiti who have never experienced anything like this before.

IT’S ALL ABOUT “PEOPLE LIKE YOURSELF,” giving people, who care more about others than about themselves.  That’s what Christmas is all about isn’t it?