A number of you donated money for me to bring to Manos de Amor and I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to be the messenger who got to deliver your gift. We had two very specific ideas.
First, we wanted to take each sibling group shopping to buy a gift for the parent or grandparent who cares for them outside of Casa Hogar. This was an interesting personal test of my own merciful heart as I sort of thought that these parents didn’t really deserve a present all that much. These children aren’t generally living at Manos de Amor because they have great, upstanding parents. Some are prostitutes. Some have in the past abandoned their children for weeks or months at a time with no food. Some have abused their children. Many (most?) are drug addicts or alcoholics. But I know that to the children, these flawed adults are their first love – they are mama or papa or abuelita and Grant and I knew that they needed a way to express their love and to be able to give. So over the course of 3 days, we took all of the children to Walmart or Mega to buy a gift for their caregiver. They all took it very seriously, trying to decide what their parent would want. Some of them were very conscious of price tags, others just really wanted to buy some toys. One boy tried convincing me his mom really loved Lego. Another tried for an Xbox. One asked if he could buy something for his mama- whom I know he hasn’t seen in years. It was fun and just a bit heart breaking. I have no idea if the parents will give a gift back. Perhaps the gift they got from Walmart is all they will get this year. But regardless, it is important that these children learn that giving is a part of life that brings great joy.
The second thing we wanted to do was put together some food hampers to send home with the children when they left for Christmas vacation. I always worry when the children leave for the weekend. I know that some of them may not eat for a few days. They may be alone most of the time. But these parents/grandparents want to have a relationship with their children. They know they can’t care for them so they allow them to live at Manos de Amor during the school year, but on vacation they want to be a family. Even if they don’t have the emotional or financial ability to do it all that well. So we went shopping for 13 large baskets of food – rice, beans, pasta, tuna, dried fruit, nuts, cereal, and of course some fun Christmas stuff like cookies and candy canes. How excited they were when they realized they got to take the big package home.
We drove Rubi to meet her Grandfather who sells chairs and rugs by the side of the road. As we drove, Rubi asked if the money for the food baskets came from my friends in Canada and I said yes. She hugged the basket and looked up and said “Gracias Dios. Dios is grande”. Thank you God….God is great. I guess that pretty much says it all. Thank you to my Canadian friends who follow our story and support these children with us. I am so happy that Rubi recognizes that although it was Canadians who provided the funds, the thanks goes to God because He is good.