It is 11:30 p.m., most of the preparations for the Compassion Christmas celebration are ready, and everyone goes home. They will be back the next day at 6 a.m. This day is so eagerly awaited because for many children it will be the day they receive their only Christmas present.
Many hours are spent in organizing the Christmas celebration to make it memorable for every child. Center staff work in groups to distribute the responsibilities of shopping for the food, snacks, decorations and then putting them all together. Love, creativity, effort and excitement go into the activities for the children of “Soldaditos de Jesus” in Leon, Nicaragua.
The festive decorations and music create an atmosphere of celebration. Bible verse competitions are held among the different ages. They also have a piñata, party jumper, delicious lunch and a short devotion by the pastor. Distributing the much-anticipated Christmas presents is the final highlight.
Gabriela is one of the hundreds of children present; she is the only child in her house, so she knows she’s getting at least one more present from her parents. However, she longs for the present from her sponsor because that will be the clothes she will wear on Christmas Day.
“I want clothes to help my mom save some money because sometimes she doesn’t have money to buy me clothes. It is important for me to help her.”
Some other registered children think similarly to Gabriela, which makes the presents they receive even more significant. It’s a gift they treasure with love.
Excitement increases as everyone goes to their classroom, where once again teachers remind children why they are going to receive those presents. The children lift up a word of prayer, asking God to bless their sponsors and donors who made the special day possible.
All of them sit and anxiously wait until their name is called. Every child gratefully and happily receives the present.
To make this possible, every year a specific fund is designated for the child’s Christmas present. This fund is only used for what the child wants for Christmas. Once the center knows how much is assigned for the gifts, different quotes are received from shop owners and the leadership team decides which one is best.
Then the chosen shop comes to the center to do a demonstration of the toys and clothes. Children decide what they like and want, although some of them say that because they are older (11 years old), their mom has told them to get clothes instead of toys. Most of the time, this orientation is given to the child by the caregiver, mainly because of the economic difficulties in which the family is found.
As children decide, toys or clothes are separated and the child’s name and code are written on their gift. Then it is saved until the last day of classes when they normally celebrate Christmas.
The rest of the small presents, decorations, food, etc., are covered by other funds saved specially for this celebration to make it very special and fun.
In the midst of the excitement, balloons, music and gifts, these children don’t forget the real reason for this celebration. Gabriela expresses that “Christmas is when Jesus Christ was born and it’s also about peace and joy for the families.”
“We tell children that Jesus was not born specifically on Christmas Day. He is born in our life when we receive Him as our Lord and Savior, and He is in our heart every day,” says Martha, the center director.
At the local church, they celebrate Christmas with all of the church members on a different day, but always giving special emphasis on the real meaning of Christmas. With the little they have, all of them come to share the peace and joy God has placed in their hearts.
The economic level of this barrio in Leon is very low. Many parents have emigrated to other countries and sadly come back because the economic situation in the countries they’ve moved to is also difficult.
Facing something like this, “Parents value these gifts and are thankful because it is hard for them to afford a gift like the one their children get at the center. Parents rejoice as they see their children happy with their gift,” explains Martha.
“Since my child was registered, Compassion has been a great support. We save more and I consider that everyone here puts much effort in the work for the children. We are thankful for the center, Compassion and the sponsors,” said Maura, Gabriela’s mother.
Sponsors’ support is very important for every activity that is done at the center. Children treasure in their hearts what they receive here in the different areas of work that help them spiritually, cognitively, physically and socio-emotionally. Children are aware where this help comes from and are thankful.
What children learn at the center is for a lifetime. Many lives have been changed by the power of God and the obedient hearts of generous sponsors. Children who have come to the Lord go home and impact their families too. Every effort done is worth it.
“You have stopped from getting things [for others in order] to give to these children. Thank you for having a heart to give to the children of Nicaragua. May the Lord bless you!” concludes Martha.
Thank you for making the difference in the life of many children around the world.