Jesus is the most creative. And I think that is one of my favorite things about Him and about being his friend. The fact that he is creative means that he makes new, beautiful things even where there is darkness. Also, he is full of surprises and unique ways to work and put things together like we would never expect. So I think it’s really fun to listen to Him because He just gives me crazy ideas a lot and it is cool to see where they end up.
When I was little, I remember that at Christmastime we often made Operation Christmas Child boxes with my mom to send to kids that didn’t have as much as we did. It seems so simple and is not the first thing that I think of when I reminisce, but I now realize that the impact it had on me was a lasting one. I think the same is true for the times that we visited nursing homes, delivered meals on wheels and volunteered at our church’s food pantry.
In middle school and high school, I often visited an orphanage in La Misión, Mexico. There are many things that impacted me about those trips, but something that I just cannot get out of my head is the director explaining that the kids that live there are not just served but they also serve others. He described the power of giving to their community, reinforcing the idea that they are not victims, but they are more than conquerors and they have plenty to offer.
Christmas at the children’s homes here can be overwhelming. People come out of the woodwork to throw Christmas parties, bring Christmas piñatas and give Christmas gifts to the precious ones living in their backyards. While it is a reality throughout the year, especially during the season of pine trees, ornaments, carols and Santa, our kids receive a lot. But one thing they do not often get a chance to do is to give.
So here is where Jesus’ creativity comes in.
A few weeks ago, a group of friends came from North Carolina to pour into the kids at Del Norte, and we decided to mix it up a bit. All eyes were on me and their attention was captured (a real feat) by our conversation about the best gifts they have ever gotten and whether or not they had ever given a gift to someone else. I explain that this year they will receive many gifts, but there are some children in the world who won’t, some that don’t have toys or toothbrushes. “Or a house,” one chimes in. “Or maybe they don’t have food,” says another. Yet another surprises me with his words, “Maybe some don’t even have clean water.”
“Yes, exactly. Well, this Christmas we are not just going to receive awesome gifts. We are also going to give them,” I continue, explaining the process of putting together an Operation Christmas Child box. As soon as the words are out of my mouth, they rush to find a buddy, a friend from North Carolina and a shoebox from the stash we have collected. They excitedly begin to wrap the boxes with Christmas wrapping paper (a brand new skill), make Christmas cards and enter the auditorium where we have laid out all sorts of materials with which to fill the boxes. Finally, when they have finished getting together their box of practical and precious presents, they go off to a spot on the playground and pray for the child that will receive the box.
And something beautiful happens. They pray for children they do not know, they give to children they will never meet, and their view of the world gets bigger. Even beyond all of that, for this afternoon they are not victims who need to beg for the next new toy or whine about the ball that so-and-so had and they want. For this afternoon, they are givers, they are selfless. And this is not the end. Because in the weeks to come, there are a few in particular that cannot get these faceless children to whom they sent Christmas presents out of their minds. They ask me each time they see me about that boy or girl that lives somewhere in the world and will now have Christmas because of them.
And it just makes sense that a creative, giving, good God made these children in his image and they love to be a part of his process, creating, giving and good.