Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas for Grandma & Grandpa

Growing up we had a LOT of traditions at Christmas:  Candy making, gingerbread houses, sugar cookies, caroling, Bear Advent Calendar, Sibling gift exchange, Nativity pageant, pajamas on Christmas Eve, jigsaw puzzles, luminarias, Christmas Lights at the DC temple & Creche Exhibit, etc.  I think we had so many traditions because we were always alone and away from extended family on the holiday, so my parents worked hard to make our own fun.  Fun it was!  We loved it so much.

Now that my parents are GRANDparents, it's been fun to see them try to figure out what new traditions they would begin with their grandchildren.  I admire that my mom is never afraid to experiment and do away with a tradition that doesn't really seem to fit in anymore.  If it doesn't work out, she doesn't hesitate to try something else.  I love this idea they came up with this year!

We received this letter in the mail shortly before Thanksgiving:

We discussed with the kids the option of things we could do to help.  We have a food pantry right down the street.  Our stake has made a big push to help them fill their shelves with donations, and both Yaks and Boo have gone on tours and served there with Scouts and A-days.  There was a single mother who lost her life, leaving behind two teenage boys and their grandmother.  There was the animal shelter...  

Then I remembered that my friend Jessica and her family had moved to the Philippines six months ago. They were spared by the Typhoon, but their mission district had been working really hard to send relief to their fellow brothers and sisters in areas that had been harder hit.  I emailed Jessica about the possibility of us sending the money to her, and having her help us make it meaningful for the kids.  She sent this wonderful letter:

"Merry Christmas!! I hear that your grandparents gave you a wonderful opportunity to share Christmas joy with those who need help. I grew up in Pullman just like you are. Now I live half way across the world on an island in The Philippines. The Philippines is very different from Pullman. We don't have dish washers or a washer/dryer for clothes. We don't have hot water  come out of the sink and we can't drink the water either! It is VERY hot here and we have to keep fans or air conditioning on just to survive. There are also a lot of bugs and wild animals that make the area not very healthy.

Recently there was a big storm called a typhoon. It had winds up to almost 200 miles per hour! When wind is really strong it can knock things over and make floods. Lots of kids just like you had their whole house disappear! Can you imagine a magic trick making your house disappear? What would be in your house that you would miss? Now imagine a magic trick making all the stores disappear too! Where do you think you would get food to eat or clothes to wear? Do you think your friends at church might share some of their food and clothes with you? I bet they would!

You are doing the same thing that your church friends would do for you if your house disappeared. Except these church friends are very far away, so far that you have to fly in an airplane to get to them. Instead of you flying in an airplane, your mom and dad are going to send your Christmas money on an airplane. The people at the church here in the Philippines will get it and they will know it's from you. What types of things do you think that money could buy to help someone who doesn't have their things anymore? Food, drinkable water, medicine, clothes for moms and dads and kids and babies are all ways that you are helping these church friends. What a great gift you are giving!!

Jane and Ben, can you calculate $100 x 43? That is number of pesos that you will be providing for these kids. That's enough food for 8 kids to eat for a week if they only eat one time a day or 4 kids to eat for a week if they eat more than one time a day. That's enough money to give the kids medicine and bandaids who are injured and sick. I think Heavenly Father is very happy with the choice you have made to help your church friends across the world. Can you send me a picture of your smiling faces so the kids here can see who has shared with them? I think they would like that. I hope you feel the happy feeling you get when you share and serve. Thank you for serving the kids in the Philippines! Merry Christmas!!

Love,  Jessica"

Jessica and her family live in Dumaguete.  The hardest hit areas were in Tacloban.  Word had reached their branch that the conditions were so bad that it was dangerous for people to stay there (bad water, dead bodies, looting, injuries)  so rescue efforts were being organized to physically remove the LDS families from the hardest hit areas to safer areas.  You can see from the map what the geography looks like.  Lots of small boats and planes are needed just to make the short-distance trip!  Expensive for the people there!  But, as you can see from the letter, 100$ goes a LONG way.  The kids decided this would be the best choice.  

Can you imagine?  Jessica said this was near a coconut plantation.  All gone.

Here is their church building.  The roof completely ripped off, and the inside flooded.  

Some of the Philippine "Primary" kids
An example of what the kids' money goes to purchase.  This was great for them to see what and how much it would buy!  

The kids took some time last week to write (or type) their thoughts and feeling about doing this project. 
Hooray for helping and experiencing the "true" meaning of Christmas!  

1 comment:

Trish and Matt said...

That is awesome! I love it.