Here’s is Noemma’s story…
It was a cold autumn night in1989 and I was four years old. My four siblings and I were all at home watching television while my parents were at a church leaders’ meeting. On nights like this, the oldest siblings usually made dinner for the younger ones. Because we didn’t have much in the cupboards or refrigerator, my older brothers sometimes gave us cereal, flour tortillas with butter on top, or toast with a dash of cinnamon. I didn’t mind because those were my favorite snacks. The phone rang and my teenage- older brother picked up the receiver. The call was from a nice lady representing City Team Ministries. After hearing that my parents weren’t home, she had, what she thought, was an easy question for my brother: “What would you like for Christmas?” My brother, unaccustomed to such an open-ended, generous question was uncomfortable at the thought, “I don’t know…maybe some cleaning rags for the house?” She laughed and after more prompting, got more answers: “Spices. Socks. Bikes?”
Weeks later on a cold morning, a large shipping truck stopped at our apartment neighborhood. The sweet lady from City Team emerged from the truck in a red blazer and matching red lipstick. She told my parents that our family had been adopted for Christmas and she was there with other City Team staff to drop everything off. Out came a large, wonderfully-smelling pine tree and bag after bag filled with multiple wrapped gifts for each member of my family. Christmas decor, boxes of fresh food that included meats, cake and brownie mixes, and spices all filled our home as well. There were socks, gameboards— like “Hungry Hungry Hippos,” dresses and dolls for my sisters and me, gift cards for my parents, and yes, even mountain bikes for my brothers. Bags and bags filled our living room floor— we could barely walk through the maze of it all. It was a happy day in our home.
You see— my parents loved Jesus and raised us to love Jesus too… and they were poor. That was the year my dad had hurt his back in his construction job. At that time, there were five children in our family…all under the age of thirteen. My mom was a housewife and looked over the household, so there was very little income. We struggled a lot as a family over the years, but I am happy to say that this Christmas day is one of my earliest childhood memories and one that I recall with warmth, happiness, but most of all, wonder. The trimmed tree wasn’t just magical because it was beautiful. The greater wonder lay in the meaning of it all. It was a physical demonstration of what my parents would teach my siblings and me about God— that He is good, that He sees, that He cares, and that He provides in tangible ways. It helped to form my faith at a very tender age. And as I grew over the years, whenever I experienced scarcity or suffering, God reminded me of beautiful experiences like this one where He made His presence known in my life and that He is a good Father. It led me to learn that better than any physical gift I could ever receive is the treasure of knowing Him through saving grace. !
I was a little girl on one of those Christmas gift-giving trees. If you have ever given a gift of any sort of Christmas drive, thank you! Please know that it makes an impact to that boy or girl. You may never meet him/her, or get a thank you card from the family, but it is still incredibly significant and can make an eternal impact as it did for me!
If you would like to make a child/family’s holiday a little more magical, please consider donating to the following organizations:
– Family Giving Tree
– Sacred Heart Community Service
– Toys for Tots
– Your local Salvation Army
– Your local non-profit organizaitons serving children/youth