Saturday, December 22, 2007

Angel Tree Ministry

A few weeks ago our church secretary, Mary, introduced us to the ins and outs of Angel Tree Ministry. Different churches and organizations lets the Angel Tree organization know how many children we can provide Christmas presents for. These children have one thing in common--at least one of their parents are in prison, some for hideous crimes like killing one of their own children. These children need a little love and a little levity, especially during a holiday season when they are faced with how different their homes are than other kids in their school. Mary has a PASSION for showing Christ's love to these children. Our church adopted seven children.

Each child had 4 wishes, and so these became ornaments on a special Angel Tree. Some picked up one or more wishes to purchase. Russ and I decided since we have no children of our own, we would love to "adopt" one of the children and purchase everything they wished for. So, I picked up the wish ornaments that said she wanted dress up clothes, pajamas, socks, and "bath" stuff.

I went to Wal-mart and had a BLAST buying for this unknown 6-year-old girl. It was MY treat. I couldn't find playtime dress-up clothes specifically in her size, and the one-size tags scared me. So I purchased a for-real dressy dress in black velvet with a bejeweled bodice. I found a crown and earrings, play jewelry, a furry boa, a scarf, real rings for little girls, tights, socks, a play cell phone with case, a girl's purse stuffed with the jewelry, and some lip and nail products for girls. I put all of this in a princess-style pink mesh hamper and wrapped it up.

Yesterday was the Angel Tree party. Russ did the intro and explained Angel Tree and sort of a mini-sermon on giving. Then I did an interactive Christmas story about all the surprises of that time, and the surprises they had waiting for them. Christmas surprises included: the angel appearing to Mary, the angels appearing to the shepherds, the bright star in the sky, Our God being born in a barn-type environment in a manger rather than in a hospital or palace, and coming down to Earth and being born with SKIN ON so that He can understand us and we have someone to go to. The biggest gift is the LOVE that came with those Christmas surprises, available to each of us no matter our situation. The children really opened up to this and admitted they needed someone like that, someone they can go to, to talk to, who understands.

Then Santa and his 3 elves came in to deliver the presents. These children were so polite that they waited to open their gifts until EVERYONE had theirs. I sat behind my adopted girl and watched her dig into the treasures found in her princess hamper. She was so precious to watch as she pulled out each gift. With the box containing the crown she actually closed her eyes while unwrapping it because she said she wanted it to be a big surprise! She tried on almost all of her items and begged her mom to go try on the dress, but her mom suggested she wait until she got home. That would have been fun to see, though!

It was fun watching ALL of the children open their gifts. They were so grateful and humble. At the end they went around hugging everyone and saying thank you. And then us grown-ups starting hugging each other too.

That old adage of it being better to give than receive is so appropriate here. In less than 2 weeks I've enjoyed 4 after-glow inducing moments: Our open house, Candlelight Communion, Ladies Nite Out, and Angle Tree Party.

It's all good!

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