Volunteering.We spend a lot of time on charity work at this time of year. One of the most memorable ways we get involved is an annual trip to El Salvador to take gifts to the children in villages for Christmas. It's been five years since we first started making the trip. Instead of spending a lot of money on each other for Christmas presents we really focus our attention on giving to the needy in El Salvador. We'll usually go over for about a week and help in the villages.
We like to take backpacks and fill them up with toys and necessities for the children. One year, we purchased a bunch of backpacks and soccer balls, flattened them out and packed them into big duffel bags as our checked luggage. Everyone took a small carry-on for their personal items and clothing for the trip. That way, shipping for the gifts was paid for. We've tried to keep this up every year.
When we get to El Salvador, we'll shop at the local stores to purchase olive oil, rice and beans and other food commodities that are needed in the community. We'll gather everything and take it to the people in the villages or mountain areas that are very needy. Once we get to the village, we'll have a big children's rally, like a Christmas party for the children. The parents come with their children, and they're just as excited about the party and the gifts as the kids. Anyway, it's such a total difference between what we live and experience here. We've got so much to be thankful for in America.
Our children get an understanding that the way we live here is not the way most people in the world live. We are definitely blessed in America. We've got so much to be grateful for. It's a really special time for our family to be able to make that trip right before Christmas.
One year, my girls came back and it was really heart-wrenching for them. They realized that they hadn't actually gotten their shopping done for Christmas at home. I overheard the conversation between the kids as they decided that they really didn't need to do any shopping. They had just spent time in a culture that has practically nothing and realized that in their home they had no needs. Compared to what they had just come back from, they have so much here. And I thought, "Thank you, Lord". That is exactly what we were praying they would get out of this, this vision of how the rest of the world lives and how blessed we are.
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