A year ago, Karen and I decided to change the parameters of our own Christmas. When children move out, marry, and have children, Christmas becomes more complicated. When I was a parent with young children, the last thing I wanted was to go somewhere for Christmas. Also, when marriage adds another family to the mix, the last thing I wanted to do was make our children choose where to spend Christmas.
So, we decided to leave the state and let our children celebrate as they saw fit. Plus, we focused on San Diego as our Christmas destination and the idea of warmer weather compared to the cold of Utah was a huge plus. So we made our reservations.
Not long after our Christmas plans were set, Karen noticed a Go Fund Me link on Lindsey Roberts’ Facebook page. She and her family were raising funds to help out with their second trip to San Quintin.
Karen was intrigued at the idea of a humanitarian project during Christmas. She saw this as a better way to spend Christmas than simply lounging in the sun in San Diego. But the plans for our trip were set. So Karen contributed to the project and expressed interest in learning more.
A few weeks after Christmas, Ramon and Jenni came to our home to thank us for our contribution and to tell us about their experience. Karen committed at that moment that we would go with them to San Quintin for Christmas 2016.
We asked the Roberts what we could do to prepare so that we could contribute to the cause. They explained that they needed more clothes and more cash to help more people. They also wanted to do more at the orphanage than supply small gifts and a party.
Karen came up with the idea of providing each child with a book in Spanish. The Roberts agreed that this would be a great gift. So Karen spent the year gathering as many Spanish books she could find, spanning a diverse readership.
In early autumn, one of our BYU ward members, Meagan Jackson, stopped by for a visit. She served a Spanish-speaking mission in New Jersey and was teaching school in Las Vegas in a heavily Hispanic area.
During our visit, we told her about our Christmas plans and invited her to come with us. Meagan jumped at the opportunity to not only spend Christmas in Mexico, but to serve those in need. So she accepted our invitation.
A few weeks before we were to leave, Jenni and Ramon hosted a mixer at their home so those going on this adventure could get to know each other. This was also a chance to make final assignments and preparations. We only knew the Roberts family and Meagan. So it was a good idea to meet the others.
In all, we had 27 people join the Roberts in their new Christmas tradition. The group included:
Roberts Family including Ramon, Jenni, Randy, Cami, Josh, the other Megan who came with Randy, and Caleb, who was serving as a missionary in San Quintin during the Roberts’ first trip.
Edwards Family including Lee, Crystal, Rilynne, Landon, Elyssa, Kyler, and Cyenna.
Hall Family including Justin, Nichole, Ryder, Ava, and Charlie.
Lloyd Family including Jeff, Mary, Chad, Adam, and Nick.
Heiss Family including Me, Karen, and Meagan Jackson who was soon referred to as Meagan Heiss. We were okay with that. I hope she was, too.
Nick Lloyd was using this experience as his Eagle Scout project and solicited his ward and community in Boise, Idaho, to adopt over 30 families of the San Quintin branch by providing them gifts. Each of the participating families adopted a branch family as well, so we came with gifts for all members of the San Quintin branch. I was amazed at the generosity of so many. The gifts filled the Lloyd’s truck and all available space in the motor home.
To continue this series, click, Five Hours South of the Border – Getting There