Tonight we had our Youth Group Christmas Party. It was completely different from your average hoopla and celebration. Derek had contacted the Community Services office, who had put him in touch with a local schoolteacher who heads up Operation Happiness for disadvantaged Hispanic families in the area. Through talking with the teacher, Derek got the names and ages of 16 children from 6 different families.
Over the last few weeks, we have had a Shopping night, when we hauled our teenagers to Walmart for presents for those children and gift cards for their parents, and a Wrapping Party during our coffee house time where we wrapped all the gifts. Tonight, we brought all 6 families in on the bus for a night of food, games, and gift-giving. I wish you could have seen these childrens' faces. They were SO excited to get presents! They could hardly stand the anticipation. Their parents English was poor, so the teacher volunteered to come along and help translate. What a blessing that was. It was so special to share the love of Jesus, and the joy of Christmas with these families. I hope it was a evening they will never forget.
As for our young people, what a great experience this was for them. Like I said, it wasn't the usual gift exchange and hilarity that a traditional Christmas party entails. This year it was all about service. This was Derek's idea and his desire for them. Having been with this group only since September, he wanted to set the tone for service early on. It has been well received by the teens and their parents. It is indeed more blessed to give than receive.
I plan to post some of the pics of tonight's outreach soon. Just thought I'd share these thoughts while they are fresh on my mind. I held the sweetest little baby named Daisy. She was so precious!