Many people see the proverbial cup as half full. Others see it as half empty. We try to see, "Someone must be thirsty lets take the cup and find them". Distressingly this year someone tried to steal our cup! They broke into our home safe and stole the nearly $10,000 we had collected for the adoption of our two daughters waiting in China. Our daughters have been watching for a forever family since their births and admission to an orphanage. Neither of our daughters can walk and they need medical care not available to them. The perpetrator was caught and apparently he still had nearly $5,000 of it hidden somewhere. He was tried and ordered to pay that to us back in October but we haven't seen the restitution and it is reported there is no money left. It has been a very difficult and stressful situation.
As a family we had to make many choices. Do we take it as a sign that the adoption was not meant to be? Do we walk away knowing we tried but couldn't make it work? As a family that was unthinkable to us. We could not leave two Ellison children behind as indeed these are our precious family members. We decided that new school clothes, trips to the movie house and Christmas presents are fun but not real needs. A real need is not having the right of every human and especially every child. The right to a permanent family. The right to a place at the Thanksgiving table. The right to an education. The right to a future with options.
As we contemplate the Christmas season this year it is different for the Ellisons. We are focusing on the gifts we can give with our hearts and our service. We reflect on the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. We count our blessings as opposed to brightly wrapped things under our tree. The photo of a girl in a plastic playhouse or the other sitting on the stairs of the slide are the most divine gifts we can imagine.
This year what can WE GIVE? How can we honor our Savior Jesus Christ? Little Misha shows the way.
TWO BABES IN A MANGER
In 1994, two Americans answered an invitation from the Russian Department of Education to teach morals and ethics (based on biblical principles) in the public schools. They were invited to teach at prisons, businesses, the fire and police departments and a large orphanage. About 100 boys and girls who had been abandoned, abused, and left in the care of a government-run program were in the orphanage. They relate the following story in their own words:
It was nearing the holiday season, 1994, time for our orphans to hear, for the first time, the traditional story of Christmas. We told them about Mary and Joseph arriving in Bethlehem. Finding no room in the inn, they went to a stable, where the baby Jesus was born and placed in a manger. Throughout the story, the children and orphanage staff sat in amazement as they listened. Some sat on the edges of their stools, trying to grasp every word. Completing the story, we gave the children many things to build their own manger.
The orphans were busy assembling their manger as I walked among them to see if they needed any help. All went well until I got to one table where little Misha sat. He looked to be about 6 years old and had finished his project. As I looked at the little boy's manger, I was startled to see not one, but two babies in the manger. Quickly, I called for the translator to ask the lad why there were two babies in the manger. Crossing his arms in front of him and looking at this completed manger scene, the child began to repeat the story very seriously. For such a young boy, who had only heard the Christmas story once, he related the happenings accurately--until he came to the part where Mary put the baby Jesus in the manger.
Then Misha started to ad-lib. He made up his own ending to the story as he said, "And when Maria laid the baby in the manger, Jesus looked at me and asked me if I had a place to stay. I told him I have no mamma and I have no papa, so I don't have any place to stay. Then Jesus told me I could stay with him. But I told him I couldn't, because I didn't have a gift to give him like everybody else did. But I wanted to stay with Jesus so much, so I thought about what I had that maybe I could use for a gift. I thought maybe if I kept him warm, that would be a good gift. So I asked Jesus, 'If I keep you warm, will that be a good enough gift?' And Jesus told me, 'If you keep me warm, that will be the best gift anybody ever gave me.' So I got into the manger, and then Jesus looked at me and he told me I could stay with him---for always."
As little Misha finished his story, his eyes brimmed full of tears that splashed down his little cheeks. Putting his hand over his face, his head dropped to the table and his shoulders shook as he sobbed and sobbed. The little orphan had found someone who would never abandon nor abuse him, someone who would stay with him - for ALWAYS. I've learned that it's not WHAT you have in your life, but WHO you have in your life that counts.
May this Christmas find you filled with the celebration of Christ.