Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Joy of Giving

Almost yearly my sweetheart signs up to "Adopt-a-Family" through his workplace.  It's always a big deal for us (especially him) to shop, wrap, and deliver to a family who is in need.  Here's how it works:  Nominated families are screened and then employees are given information about them that would assist in the buying process.  This year in my sweetheart's unit participants were grouped (about 4-5 people) and then they each donated money (whatever they chose to give).  The money was pooled and DH (Dear Hub) brought it home and we did the shopping.

Our family was a husband, wife, a daughter, age 7 and a little boy, age 3.  We tried to make the money stretch as far as we could.  I really enjoy the shopping part. Big Surprise?  The kids and I headed out to the mall and start looking for great sales of quality clothing.  We were able to buy an outfit (2 for the little girl) for each member, a couple toys for the kids, and a $100 grocery gift card for their family.  We were really happy with our purchases.

As the day got closer for delivery, life began to get a little crazy.  That always seems to happen when a blessing is on its way.  The day we were supposed to deliver I took the kids on a field trip to the Queen Mary.  While we were gone, Hub was at work and afterward he rushed home to wrap the gifts.  We met up at home.  I was at the point where I didn't really want to go.  Our house looked disasterous and needed SERIOUS cleaning, we were getting ready to head out of town for a soccer tournament, laundry needed to be done for that, etc.  The endless list of household responsibilites was hanging over my head, but we decided it was best to do the delivery as a family.

Here's a note my sweetheart sent out regarding our visit...

"To all-

I just wanted to give a little update for the family we adopted this year.
We finished all the shopping for the family and wrapped the gifts for delivery a week ago Friday. We were able to purchase shoes, some basic clothes and a couple toys for each of the kids. We then set aside a $100 gift card for food purchases for the holidays. With a little help from a translator, we contacted the family and confirmed the location and drop-off time.

We wrapped all the presents and loaded my whole family up in the car for the delivery. We arrived at their apartment a little before 3pm. We met Mom and daughter. The whole family lives in a small, older 1 bedroom apartment and all their furniture is salvaged from the demolition work her husband does for income. Mom spoke very good English and we stayed and spoke with her for over half an hour. She was a great host – she offered us bottled water while we were there and spent the entire day cleaning and getting ready for our arrival. Their daughter was very shy and quiet but near the end of our time was starting to talk and relax. Her mother was very proud of her little girl as she is one of the best students in her class.  Mom thanked us multiple times for our kindness. She confessed that the auto insurance was due this month (a vehicle her husband needs for work) and they had no idea how they were going to make this payment along with their other bills – let alone buy gifts for Christmas.

For my family it was a highlight of the Christmas spirit and season and your donation was very much appreciated by a family in real need.

Thanks again to all of you for participating."
Like he said, they lived in a SMALL (like 300 sq. ft. at the most) one bedroom apartment.  The parents and little boy slept in the one bedroom and the little seven year old girl slept on a futon in what was the living room.  On cold nights dad would sleep in the living room and little girl slept with mom so she wouldn't get cold.
Mom shared with us how they planned to celebrate the Virgin of Guadalupe that night.  Mom had made rice and milk for ALL the guests who were coming that night.  She was really excited.  It reminded me of some of our experiences we had while we lived in the Azores when I was growing up.  I wanted to stay and celebrate with them, even though I don't know anything about the Virgin of Guadalupe.
Mom was supposed to pick up her son at 3:30 and twice her friend called to say, "Let's Go," but she just kept putting her off so she could sit and visit with us a bit longer.  After about a 1/2 hour visit we had to go and Mom needed to pick up her little guy.
In that 1/2 hour my heart was FILLED!  I wished we had more to give them.  The joy that we experienced on the ride home was inexplicable.  We were all filled!  It seemed like we were so much more appreciative than we were when we arrived.  We were not as bogged down by what wasn't done, but focused on what was right in our lives.  Somehow, our perspective was shifted ever so slightly and suddenly that we had hearts of thankfulness and gratitude that we didn't have when we walked into that little apartment.
I don't know if we'll see that little mom again.  I hope so.  God used her in a season of frantic, busy discontent and replaced it with gladness and joy.  Thank you!

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