Jesus said to do this….
Today, our extended family brought over $500.00 worth of gifts to one of the poorest families in Long Beach – Maria the mom, and her 4 children Ana (9), Jesus (11), Juan (12) and Maria (13). The husband is an alcoholic and wasn’t around. Maria is from Oaxaca and has lived in Long Beach for 7 years and in the States for 13.
They live in a studio in a dense part of Long Beach, the children’s bunk beds are in their living room/tv room/dining room, there was a strong stench in the apartment, but the place was neatly kept and the children were well behaved.
In attendance was Rachelle and I, my sister Marcia, our three children, my wife’s sister Suzanne, my wife’s sister Meredith, her husband Tom and their baby boy Charlie, my wife’s mom Lynette and dad Dennis Baker.
My wife cooked them a turkey (her first ever and it was to give to a poor family, my wife is amazing). Together, our combined families brought them new wrapped gifts – school uniforms, Barbies, new pants, new dresses, shirts and shoes, bubble bread and even a Christmas tree. Both our girls gave their very best/favorite dolls and Isabela (5) used her own saved up money to buy a Barbie for them.
The family is part of Long Beach Friend’s Church, where Yolanda and David Hamm attend. Yolanda was my contact person through Eric Marsh from Grace Long Beach and Hope for Long Beach and has an ongoing relationship with this family. Yolanda leads a Bible study of 12-13 people including Maria and other Spanish speaking families.
My wife cried when we first got there and could hardly finish her opening words of thanks and appreciation. This was my wife’s project and vision.
It was a meaningful experience. There’s a relationship with the family and a Spanish speaking local church (very important), and from our children, to all of us, to Maria and the family we we were all touched by the love of God. I read from Matthew 1 on the visit of the magi to see Jesus, the tough circumstances Jesus was born into, yet when the magi came, they worshiped Him and so did we.
I was also moved that our children saw a place they’re not used to and yet to see children that are just like them – happy, hoping for Barbies and trucks, that go to school, that speak English and Spanish and have bikes. When we got home they spoke of their time there… Canela (7) said “there house is small.”
At the end, we worshiped together and sang “Silent Night”, “Noche de Paz” and of course, “Jingle Bells.” It was an amazing night which gives me perspective on how much we have.
Have a great day.
Into the future,