This year again several sponsors from the US have helped us give extra blessings to Milk Project children and their families.
I am continually humbled and surprised to see what Maria discovers when she visits the homes as to what they want for Christmas.
It is definitely a different mentality than the society/culture from whence I come. Yeri here asked specifically for a gift he could share with his family. In his case, that meant grapes and apples (a very traditional Christmastime food/gift.)
The amount per child varied quite a bit, meaning other children did get more, and most got nothing extra (something we are going to be talking about and praying about addressing in 2017...we are still growing/learning/changing year after year little by little!)
But...none of the kids really wanted toys or just silly fun stuff. Given their family's overall financial state, it is not surprising that priorities change. To be sure, when groups give them toys and such they love that too, but when given the option, I think only one of the boys even mentioned a toy in their list.
Jhoan above requested a dresser, a place to put his clothes. Before he was using a sort of metal shelving unit, no drawers.
Having new clothes to show your family and extended family for Christmas is a big deal here...one thing that most cannot actually do. Used clothes are the norm here, and for some of our kids Maria bought them some used clothes, but most of the time when she could make the budget work, they got brand new clothes, first worn by them. That is the exception, not the rule for most of the clothing they own.
How about just getting a trip to the mall? That is a big deal. Kind of hard for most of us to fathom. Getting an ice cream cone, maybe meet Santa, and pick out your own clothes...this is a memorable expeirence.
Many of the kids also asked for food for their families. Maria does a great job and is in a great position to tell me how to best spend the money. We bought another bed for one of the boys, she bought quite a bit of food, figured out which dressers would be best (we were able to buy three total...plastic units that are a mix of utilitarian, inexpensive, but not too flimsy/easily breakable) and then managed all the clothes budgets remarkably.
I am thankful to the sponsors that made it possible to bless these families in this way.
I am thankful to everyone this year that has prayed for us, for the ministry, for various concerns and in general, and for those that have sent generous donations to not only keep this Milk Project going, but to fund the construction of the new building, to keep the clinic and Churches going, those that sent donations for our family support, and support for everything else that the mission does, so many different arms, ministries and people in this family. It really is amazing and more than I can take in fully.
Thank you, and thank God. We could not do it without either. And Merry Christmas however you celebrate or not...it marks the greatest gift ever given.