Five Hours South of the Border – Christmas Eve: Part III

20161224_161710With the tale of the broken cable behind us, we prepared to deliver the gifts. The members of the branch leadership helped us separate the bundles by area so that we could avoid having cars crisscrossing the city.

Our group consisted of our car and Justin’s. The cars were packed with large plastic bags for each of our families. We had two sisters from the branch in our car. They were a delight. Of course, I had no idea what they were saying, so I couldn’t understand the directions they were giving me.

Karen explained to them that I had no concept of right and left. So to avoid frustration, she told them to point the directions I should turn. The two sisters had quite a laugh that I was so directionally impaired. I am sure Karen added some commentary to this situation as the sisters could not stop laughing.

(Sometimes there are advantages to not knowing what is being said.)

20161224_161610We had a list of nine families. When we made a left turn off the main road onto an unpaved road, the sisters looked at the list again and explained that we would only be able to deliver to a few of the families for most of the roads were impassable.

At this point, one of the sisters asked Karen if we had dirt roads where we lived. Karen explained that dirt roads are quite rare and that most of our roads are paved. The two sisters could not comprehend this. To them, dirt roads are the norm and they were sure this was so all over the world.

20161224_161646When we arrived at our first home we had to park some distance away because the mud prohibited us from getting any closer.

We located the family’s gifts and trudged to their home. This was a very poor family. The concrete home had no windows and was shared by extended family members. The single dull light bulb did very little to illuminate the home.

In spite of these humble circumstances, they invited us in and were so appreciative of our many gifts. The children were elated.

Karen was in charge of explaining to the family why we were bring them gifts. She was choked with emotion as she tried to explain that Christmas was about Christ’s love and these few presents were our way of sharing His love with them.

It is often said that those giving service gain more than those receiving. This was exactly what we all experienced at each home we visited. No one felt like a project that night. We were simply all basking in the true spirit of Christmas.

The next home we visited was in stark contrast to the first. While it was in the same area, these people clearly had more financial resources. The sister of the home explained that the branch really didn’t need the several gifts that have been donated over the years. But they were all deeply touched that so many of their American brothers and sisters would sacrifice so much to be with them. To the branch members, it was never about the gifts. Rather, it was about the community created by our visit.

The final two houses happened to belong to the two sisters in our car. They had participated in the gift giving at the previous two homes so they knew what we were going to say. But they still wanted to hear it and that same wave of love that overwhelmed each of us was just as strong in their two homes.

After the last house, we made our way back to the chapel to deposit the gifts we could not deliver and to wait for the others. Within a few minutes, most of the groups returned. Some were able to deliver all the gifts. Some had issues similar to ours. But all experienced the same flood of emotion.

My guess is that none in our group took the time to read through Luke 2 as a reminder of the true meaning of Christmas. But I am sure actually participating as the Savior’s hands by sharing His love provided each participant the spirit of Christmas they were seeking.

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To continue this series, click, Five Hours South of the Border – Christmas Morning

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