Having barely survived the end of the fall semester, my last semester of grad school, I was just happy to get what rest I could and live to work another day. It was just a few days before Christmas, but it might as well have been the middle of June as far I was concerned. I was as far from the Christmas spirit as I had ever been.
On the evening of December 19th, while leaning my head against the airplane window, the reality of what the next few days had in store started to sink in. I realized how lucky I was to be a part of what we were doing. We were on our way to Nicaragua to inaugurate the four homes we were providing to four families through our Happy Homes Project… And just in time for Christmas!
The next few days we spent with these four families in Villa Betania were simply AMAZING. The families were extremely thankful to be receiving these homes and goods, particularly for the sake of their children. I was equally thankful. Thankful for the donations that made this possible and for being able to see this through, but also just to be able to be with these great people and share with them. I felt more at home there than I do in my own apartment!
Here are not only families coming together to survive and strive for better days, but an entire community standing and striving together. Everybody plays his or her part in contributing to the greater good of the family, of the community. From the middle schooler who works an afterschool and weekend job to help his mom pay for her cancer treatment, to the community leaders who work tirelessly with us so that these families can receive these homes.
This is what Christmas is about. This is what life is about! We often get so caught up in our own lives and problems that we forget to look around, reach out to others, and keep in mind what really matters.
These families do not have much as far as material possessions go, but they live in abundance. Abundance of a sense of community, of camaraderie, of determination, of optimism, of joy, of compassion, of love. They shared these abundances with me and that seemed to dwarf everything we had been able to provide them with.
I left not wanting to leave, but I knew my family would be less-than-thrilled by my empty seat at the table on Christmas. I came back, but came back revitalized and with a renewed focus on the things that really matter. These families had more of an impact on me than they will ever know. This year I ended up having one of the best Christmases I’ve ever had, and in large part I owe that to these four families and Villa Betania.
In short, the best Christmas gift I got this year… I got through giving.