Thursday, March 10, 2011

Christmas Presents for Orphans in Ukraine

I know it is March, but my mind is still on Christmas. I love Christmas for several reasons. One of the most recent reasons is that our family found a way to reach out to the orphans in Ukraine at Christmas.

Teaming up with a Ukrainian orphan ministry, we fill quart sized ziploc bags with a pair of socks, a gift, a Christmas card and candy. It is amazing what you can stuff into a small bag, but what is even more amazing is how much fun we have doing it!

When Anderson and I shopped for the gifts to put into the bags, we talked about what the boys and girls would like and Anderson really got into it. As we walked out to our car, he stopped in the middle of the parking lot.
"Wait a minute." He said. "Are you mailing these to the orphans or are you taking them?"
It was a fair question. Last year I had the opportunity to deliver our bags to Ukraine. Anderson remembers the suitcase overflowing with candy, toys, socks and scarves. He also remembers his mother being gone for days and days.

My girls helped pack bags for the girls. We wrapped princesses and pink socks and even coordinated by putting pink candy in the bags. As we filled the bags we talked about the little girls who would open these bags.
My three-year old, Ellen, was full of questions. "What is her name?" "What does she look like?" "Will she like princesses?"

Our church got involved and we were able to send 61 bags plus money to help the ministry team with transportation to the orphanages. As I talked with people who filled bags, I noticed that many of them radiated with JOY.

It seems like such a small gesture - a quart sized bag, candy, a pair of socks, a toy and a Christmas card. And it could even seem a little abstract since the bags are going to children in orphanages on the other side of the world.

Our friends who distribute the bags videoed the children opening the bags sent in 2010. You can find it on Youtube under Ukraine Christmas Gifts for Orphans January 2010. As the video plays, the abstract feeling fades and the impact becomes real.

At the very least we are bringing a smile to the face of a child. At a time of year when all children should smile - especially those who have been tossed aside, neglected, and abandoned by the adults in their lives.
On the larger scale, we are placing these bags in the hands of a ministry team who will have the opportunity to meet these children, to hug them, to reassure them that they do matter. They also have the wonderful opportunity to share the Gospel with the children in the orphanages they visit.

I am thankful that in God's economy there is nothing random, no effort too small, and nothing wasted.

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