Today’s blog post comes from ROOM Missionary and Honduras Country Director, Cassie Murray. Cassie has worn many official hats in our ministry: Costa Rican Missionary, Honduran Missionary, Honduras Transition Home Director, foster mom, mission team leader, Honduras Country Director; and, just as many unofficial titles: mentor, advocate, fundraiser, blogger, errand-runner and prayer warrior. Cassie’s seasonal article today is inspired by a heart full of love for the children she calls her own and the children served by ROOM.
This Christmas feels a bit weird.
I know it can’t just be me. This year has been a tough one for many of us.
It’s been a year where our perspectives have been shifted and the smallness of the world has been felt in ways that makes us all uncomfortable.
It makes it difficult to do things the same way when the lens that we have viewed the world through shifts or is completely transformed.
And you know what, that’s okay.
It’s great, actually. We need to start thinking about why we do the things we do. We need to start thinking about sustainability and the impact of our decisions beyond today.
I started my holiday celebrations early this year. Very early. In October I brought Christmas gifts from ROOM donors in the U.S. to the terrific kids who spend their days at Crecer (ROOM’s partner ministry in San Pedro Sula, Honduras working with kids who are at-risk). The Christmas presents ROOM is providing this year will serve two purposes: 1) Kids, who otherwise might go without, receive a gift to open on Christmas, and 2) Basic needs, such as clothing or school supplies, are met in a special way.
In speaking with Jilli, the program’s director, about the gifts ROOM provided she told me a story that helped me understand how the presents’ impacts go deeper than just these two purposes: One of the kids from Crecer doesn’t know his Birthday. She told him to pick a day and they would just celebrate his birthday on the day he choose, but he declined. After all the other kids had parties (and pinatas!), he decided that birthdays weren’t all bad. But instead of picking the next day (which I surely would have), he picked a date months later. Now, this young man has an annual Birthday celebration to look forward to every year.
Not knowing your birth date means so many things. First, it means you don’t have a birth certificate. This is not uncommon. Many kids don’t have birth records in Honduras due to home births, anonymous abandonment, lost paperwork, and countless other reasons. ROOM works toward getting birth certificates for every child in our care so that they can do things like go to school or get married someday. They basically need it to exist in the government’s eyes.
But, a birth certificate means more than paperwork: It means knowing how old you are. It means being counted… being remembered… and being celebrated when you turn another year older. A present is not just a present. A party is not just a party. These are physical examples that the people around you want to celebrate you, just because of who you are.
Birthday parties and Christmas gifts are tangible ways to show these kids that they are remembered. They are part of a community. They are special. They are loved.
With this new perspective on Birthdays, I began preparing to celebrate Jesus’ birthday by asking new questions; starting with: What is our goal for celebrating Christmas?
We say that we want our kids not to be focused selfishly, but the first question they are asked is, “What do you want for Christmas?” And after the holidays, we hear, “What did you get for Christmas?”
We inadvertently make Christmas about what they receive just with those two questions. Incidentally, we also isolate so many people who won’t be getting anything for Christmas.
And even though I want to buy my children the world, I want to embrace how different this year feels by purposely making some changes out of respect for the children we know and love who are not living a life of privilege.
For starters, I am going to be intentional about shifting my own perspective and maybe even (if just for a minute) the perspective of others by asking, “What are you excited to GIVE this year?”
It isn’t a huge change, but I’ve realized that funny thing about perspective is that it rarely takes huge moments to cause a shift. Sometimes it is just a casual conversation with a friend, like my conversation with Jilli.
Another change I am making is following the example of my friends at Crecer (who celebrate Christmas by serving their community). I’ve been so inspired by their hearts to give their neighbors crafts and baked goods, that my family and I have decided to make cookies and cards for our own neighborhood.
By focusing on giving instead of receiving, Christmas becomes about an outward expression of love rather than an inward focus on self.
If you are like me and are trying to make the most of this giving season, ROOM has put together a Giving Catalog that illustrates just how gifts from $1 all the way to $10,000 can make powerful impacts in the lives of the kids we serve. We are dedicated to being good stewards of all donations, meaning that 100% of your donation goes directly to the project specified. To make this extra special, ROOM will send an beautiful honor or memorial card to your friend or family member for any giving catalog donations.
To learn more about this Giving Catalog check out: Giving Catalog Razoo Page
To learn more about how ROOM empowers children and communities, and for ways you can get involved with our ministry this holiday season and beyond, check out: http://www.makeroom.org/