Monday, January 20, 2014

Joyful Faces

Abe has been gone for the last several days, but nine sweet children (6 of my own) have been by my side for most of this past weekend.  All 9 accompanied me on a service project Saturday with a nonprofit organization called www.claritashouse.com.  We were to sort food and distribute it for those who were in need.

All the children were ecstatic to help in some way.  As we prepared to leave the service project, there was quite a bit of snack food left over.  Seeing me with 9 young children, the other volunteers loaded our van up with some of the left-over boxes of crackers, cookies, and drinks.

Oh you should have seen the excitement on the children's faces when they saw what they were receiving.  We rarely buy snacks such as these, so they had a serious feast in the back of our big shuttle van.

As we drove down the street with our van full of children stuffing their faces with their favorite snacks, I looked to my right and saw a solemn-looking woman holding up a sign that said, "HUNGRY."

I called back to the children to grab food for her as fast as they could.

OH MY GOODNESS!  You should have seen the mass chaos of children diving over each other in the van handing food out the window to this woman as fast as they could.  The children were giggling with joy, and the woman receiving the food couldn't help but turn her solemn demeanor into a giggle too as she saw innocent, joyful faces filling her arms with food.

The light turned green, and we had to drive away.  One of the children stuck his head out the window and yelled, "God bless you!!" His final message was fitting since God really was the one who gave them the joy in their hearts and the desire to give.

Do you know how I know God was in their hearts?  These children didn't give away their least desirable treats; they gave away their very favorite treats from the van!  

About 4 minutes later we came to another stop light, and one of the boys yelled out, "Over there! Over there!"

To our right was a man with two young children standing on the side of the road holding up a sign requesting aid.

One of my 9 children then stuck his head out the window and shouted, "Sir, sir!! Here- we have food for you!"

The man ran over to our van and received more food than he could hold.  My van of children called the man's son over as well.  The young boy raced over with his small arms opened wide.

The little boy's face touched my heart the very most.  Pure joy and excitement shown in his eyes as he saw the delicious treats delivered by boys his very age.  This young boy did not look ashamed or embarrassed of his situation because he knew the givers had pure and true intentions.

That's what it was!! Pure joy for the givers and pure joy for the receivers.  I know that's how God intended it to be.  

After the giving was over, for a split second, I hoped we still had enough snacks for our children to enjoy during our days of moving over the next few days.  That selfish thought only lingered a moment because I promptly recognized the value of what these children were learning…

In Matthew 25:35-40 Jesus says:

 35 For I was an ahungred, and ye bgave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a cstranger, and ye took me in:
 36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye avisited me: I was in bprison, and ye came unto me.
 37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
 38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
 39 Or when saw we thee asick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have adone it unto one of the bleast of these my cbrethren, ye have done it unto me.
As we give selflessly (and wisely), we trust God to take care of our every need.  So… although the food was appreciated and enjoyed, it wasn't really about the food.  It was about teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ by sharing hope, love, and joy… via the literal giving of food with joyful faces.  I would never trade the opportunity for those 9 children to give food to others in need in exchange for a few extra snacks throughout the week.

As it turned out, the children received both.  It truly felt like the loaves and fishes in Jesus' time because the children still had plenty of snacks to go around even after they gave so generously.  What a blessing to be able to give.

We were only able to experience this joyful giving because of the many hours of planning and preparation by the members of this wonderful organization.

Below is a short, touching video from when our family served Thanksgiving dinner to those who did not have a meal.  Members of our family are in this video, but you will also see a very special man praising God in a truly joyful way.

This man arrived to the Thanksgiving dinner in ragged clothes.  Upon arrival he received NEW clothes.  He immediately went somewhere to don his new attire.  He returned walking a little taller and a little prouder.  In fact, he felt so good and so joyful that all throughout his dinner he couldn't help but dance to the music with his arms outstretched praising God.  

Joy doesn't look much better than this!!! :-)  Enjoy the video and let me know if you would like to be involved with www.claritashouse.com in any way.
~May God bless you…