Last year a week before Christmas, our home was robbed of Christmas presents and other valuables. Word spread very quickly and we soon found ward members and a neighbor at our door with food, and gifts to replace what we had lost. We were very grateful for their kindness, but Stuart and I felt extremely guilty that people were spending their busy schedules and money on us. Although our family was shaken up by the intrusion, we were OK. We knew that the items stolen were only possessions (well, the kids did have a MUCH harder time with losing their gifts).
Feeling unworthy of the over- abundance of kind deeds, I knelt down and plead with Heavenly Father and asked that people would forget about this whole thing and stop serving us. The answer was a very warm and kind response…let them serve you and use it to serve. The answer was really a demonstration to me of how God works and how He uses each of us to serve and in turn we are to serve others. It also helped me to realize that sometimes I need to be more humble and allow the service. The truth was that as much as I felt we didn’t need the service, it made such an immense difference in helping us feel an abundance of love and with our family feeling the true meaning of Christmas.
On Dec 23, a few families that we had never met before came to our door. They told us how our neighbor had posted on facebook about our ordeal. The Natter Family from Temecula read about it and put a massive effort into blessing our family. With the generosity of 17 families, whom we had never met, they presented us with many gifts and money. We were completely overwhelmed with their generosity. They were all filled with the Pure Love of Christ and radiated His love. The kids were ECSTATIC about their gifts. They have never had a Christmas like this. That is for sure. After these 3 families left, the scared feelings of the robbers returning dissipated and were replaced with love, peace, and hope.
I went to bed knowing that we should serve others with the money that was given. I thought of so many people that could use it and just didn’t know where to begin. I woke up very early and it was very clear to me what the Lord wanted us to do. For a while I had wanted to feed the homeless a warm meal on Christmas. I wasn’t sure though how to go about making a meal for so many and on Christmas when I am so busy with my own little kids on Christmas morning. So I had just kind of resigned to it being good in theory, but not doable. Christmas Eve morning it was clear that feeding the homeless was exactly what we were supposed to do, except I wasn’t supposed to do the cooking. My friend’s husband was supposed to do the cooking.
My good friend’s husband had owned a restaurant, but lost it a couple years ago with the downfall in the economy. Since then he has been working little jobs here and there, but nothing that would support a family of 6. They have been destitute these last couple of years, which has been very hard on this humble man’s pride and sense of self-worth. This is a family that serves so selflessly even when they barely have anything. Kids flock to their apartment because it is a place of love and kindness.
My friend had told me that if ever I know of someone that needed a caterer, that her husband could be hired. So Christmas Eve morning I called them and asked if he would cater a meal for the homeless on Christmas morning. They both jumped at the chance. He told me that he wanted to do it for free because of who it was for. I of course told him that he would be paid by the generosity of others. I took him shopping on Christmas Eve and at 11:30 on Christmas day I got a call that the meals (chicken, rice, and vegetable medley) were ready to be picked up. They had made close to 100 meals. It was so good to see this humble man so happy and rejuvenated to be hired to use his skills.
They are very religious people and love God, but do not celebrate Christmas. So I was not taking him away from any Christmas family traditions that his family would be celebrating. I am just amazed at how the Lord worked in the whole situation to uniquely bless each of His children in our own needs and desires. He truly is aware of us and what we stand in need of.
Stuart had gotten a severe case of strep throat Christmas morning so stayed home with the 2 little kids taking naps. Meanwhile, I took the older 3 kids to pick up the meals and drive around to find people that needed a warm meal. Summer (11) was really excited to go, but the boys were upset about leaving their brand new amazing toys. Their frustration was short lived as we got started.
As we drove I kept praying that we would find people that needed a meal. I was constantly reassured that He would lead me to people. We started driving around and found a few people that were holding signs up for help. Sometimes we handed them meals through the window when we were stopped at a stop light. Other times we got out and walked around a bit to hand them out. Everyone was VERY grateful. Summer made and handed out little notes that said things like “Someone cares.” All of the kids were a little shy at first, but they soon warmed up and walked up to people with confidence and love. I kept having the thought to go to San Diego where the 94 ends and the city begins. Wow! There were a lot of homeless people there. They were so kind and so grateful.
This brought us so much happiness. When we got home and were eating dinner, Spencer (8) said this was the best Christmas EVER!!! I asked why and he said because of the homeless and all of the presents. All of us agreed that this was our best Christmas ever.
The most important thing I learned from this experience was that although bad things are going to happen, Heavenly Father replaces the bad with something so much better, something that we may not feel like we deserve. I learned so much about the grace of Jesus Christ and that when we have been blessed with it, we must share it with others.