First Christmas away from home..
I didn't know what to expect.. all I knew is that I signed up to come to Ecuador, and knew that there was no doubt in my mind that I needed to be here for Christmas.. That for what ever reason, I knew I would learn, and that it was what was best for me.
The week before Christmas was hell.
I was sick, homesick, and so tired.
It was the lowest it had ever been with volunteers.. which meant there were very few shifts off, and the feeling in the home was just negative.
We tried our hardest to stay positive, but we all missed our families, wanted to have a break, and wanted Christmas to be over with.
Things turned around when we were able to help wrap presents for a boys orphanage that is near the equator. Earlier in the month we were able to spend time with these boys, and I am so grateful for that opportunity. They were so much fun, and I was glad to see that they would recieve presents on Christmas.
We had parties, watched movies, and decorated the house.. but even then, I was questioning why I so desperately wanted to be here for Christmas. The children weren't old enough to understand, no matter how many times we yelled "feliz navidad" to them.. haha.
But, I woke up Christmas morning and felt happy. The stress was gone, and I could fully appreciate being here, and being able to love these kids with everything I have. Waking them up Christmas morning was more fun for me than for them, cause like I mentioned, they didn't know it was Christmas. But it didn't matter. I was able to recognize the true meaning of Christmas, and catch a glimpse of why I was truly here.
Later in the day we did a gift exchange, and just hung out.. After that we were told to go down to distrubution, which is a room full of donations.. and grab as much as we could. We didn't know where we were headed, or who would be there.. but we grabbed as much stuff as we possibly could. We filled up the van and were off. About fifteen minutes later we arived and heard a loud bell go off. People started coming, and the crowd was getting bigger. The kids started lining up, and were anxious to recieve, what was probably their only Christmas present they would get. We started passing out coloring books, jump ropes, and toys. They little kids line ended, and the moms saw us getting out baby clothes and blankets. The madness began, and I was getting overwhelmed. They so desperately wanted to get something, they started coming closer and closer. Being completly honest.. I will add that for a moment I got really annoyed. I wanted to give them these things, so why did they need to be so greedy about it.. Then I thought about how ridiculous that sounded. They were being "greedy" because this was probably the only thing they would recieve for their children for a very very long time. This was it. They don't have the luxury of buying what ever they want, when they want. This was it. We got through everything, and started heading to the car with empty boxes. Several of the children asked for the boxes, acting like that was just as good as anything else they had recieved.. Like what? They wanted this box.. for Christmas.? We made sure all the boxes were given out, and as I looked over my shoulder, I noticed a line that had started to form. Of people young and old lining up to hug us, give us a kiss on the cheek, and say "gracias." At that moment I realized why I needed to be there for Christmas.
I learned that we are to love everyone. That regardless their age, race, or status in the world.. we are to love them. I learned that things don't mean anything. That family is the biggest blessing you could ever be given.. and not everyone is garuanteed that. I learned that I am so blessed... That I was able to get in the car out of the rain, drive to our house, walk to the fridge, grab some food, go watch a movie, talk to my family.. and have the best Christmas of my life..(though I will add that I slipped and fractured my arm on the way in hahaha) But, I can't imagine what these people have to go through everyday.. Even being here and seeing a lot of it.. But I will only see three months of what they have to go through every day of their life. That is strength.
I am so grateful for this Christmas.. soo so grateful for this Christmas.