Dec 24 2008

Presents for the King

The church was packed with 200 children and their parents, celebrating the pre-Christmas program with the Compassion child cevelopment center. When the host announced the opening of the program, the room burst with clapping.

Laboni was there with her sister Sraboni. Everything around Laboni was entirely new for her. She belongs to a Christian family, but in their lives Christmas is just like every other regular day. There has been nothing very special about Christmas except going to church in the morning.

But after Laboni and her sister got registered at the child development center, everything around her has been changing in a positive way. The meaning of Christmas has also changed.

laboni-with-her-mother-and-sister-sraboni

Laboni looked at the ceiling of the room, wonderfully decorated with colored paper and balloons. She never saw such decorations at their village on top of a small hill. There also was a well-decorated Christmas tree on the front stage.

Under the tree there were several packets wrapped in bright paper that were drawing her attention. Everything around her was a surprise. She comes to the student center every day and has her classes and meal together with her friends. They have lots of fun each day, but today was very different than the other activity days.

A week ago, Laboni heard from her development center teacher that all of them would receive gifts at the pre-Christmas program. The day before the pre-Christmas program, each of the children of the Compassion student center including Laboni and her friends laboni-and-friends-receive-new-dress-and-sandalsreceived a new dress and a pair of new sandals as Christmas gifts.

These were the first gifts Laboni ever received in her eight years of life. She belongs to a village that is predominantly Hindu where there is no culture of exchanging gifts. Laboni has eight other brothers and sisters, and their parents never gave them any gifts. She was amazed by the generosity of the Compassion student center.

She returned home with her elder sister Sraboni who also received the Christmas gifts. Both the sisters were panting as they climbed the hill, and cried out, “Mother! Mother! Come out and see what the Compassion student center has given to us!”

They wanted to show their presents to their mom in the daylight as they don’t have electricity in their house. Their mother came out quickly; she thought that one of her daughters was hurt. Because her daughters are very gentle and quiet, they never make much noise without emergency.

But she was surprised, seeing her daughters laughing and holding something. Laboni and Sraboni showed their new dresses and sandals to their mother. Laboni said, “Mother! Our teacher invited you at the pre-Christmas program tomorrow.”

Their mother wondered at the generosity of Compassion. That evening Laboni and Sraboni visited all the houses at the neighborhood and showed their gifts to everyone.

Laboni wore her new dress and sandals at the pre-Christmas program. Before the program had started she noticed that many new blankets were arranged at the side of the stage. She was wondering about those colorful blankets.

But her thoughts got interrupted as the host announced her name to come forward to cut the Christmas cake with a few other children. A big Christmas cake was brought in front of them, another new experience for Laboni, who had never seen a pastry cake before.

She tasted some ordinary homemade cakes before but it was nothing like this. The cake was nicely decorated with candles. Laboni and the children blew the candles out and they cut the cake with the Compassion representative and pastor of the church.

cutting-cake

Laboni got back to her place where she was sitting. She was getting happier proportionately with the time. Laboni and Sraboni enjoyed the cultural program by the children. After the cultural show, it was the time for distributing the other gifts among the children.

Sraboni and Laboni were busy in talking to each other, when the announcer called Laboni’s name to receive her Christmas gift. Laboni was surprised as she thought that her dress and sandals were her Christmas gifts.

laboni-gets-gift-of-blanket-and-towel She never expect more for this Christmas. She got on the stage and received a green blanket and a nice towel. She couldn’t believe her luck. Her elder sister Sraboni also got the same gifts. Her mother was also among the crowds, and was amazed by the love of Compassion student center for her daughters.

After the gift distribution, there came the thanksgiving part. The child development center manager said to the audience,

“Last year we gave sweaters and other accessories to the children as Christmas gifts. This year we are giving each of the children a new dress, sandals, towels and blankets. These blankets will keep them warm at night during this cold season.”

Then the Compassion representative told the audience that all these gifts for the children were from the beloved sponsors of Compassion who saved money for these kids. The whole audience stood up and gave a big hand to all the sponsors for their heavenly love.

Then the children prayed together for all the sponsors of Compassion. Laboni was among them, praying for the sponsors. After the program was over, it was time for Laboni and Sraboni to get back home with their mother.

They usually walk home, but that day their mother hired two rickshaws as the blankets were heavy.

laboni-in-rickshaw

They returned home and Laboni went away immediately to speak with her friends. Her mother said,

“This Compassion center helped us by providing rice and lentils during the food crisis period. They are taking care of both of my daughter’s studies. Now they are giving them these expensive gifts. I couldn’t wish more for my daughters.

You couldn’t realize how useful these blankets are for our family. It is very cold here in December. We are ten people in this house, at night we have to share just two warm sheets for protecting us from cold. These blankets will easily cover Laboni and Sraboni and their two elder sisters at night.

They also gave my children two new dresses and sandals. This will be the first time they will wear new clothes on Christmas day. Though I couldn’t afford my elder children new dresses but they are also happy that, at least their youngest sisters are having something new. I consider myself very lucky because we have a Compassion student center near our village.”

Laboni returned home with all her friends. She showed them all her gifts. She said to me,

“Now we will sleep well at night. I will take my elder sister with me under my blanket and Sraboni will take our other sister. This blanket is so soft Please say thanks to our sponsors who send these gifts for me and Sraboni. I am very happy; this Christmas is the best Christmas of my life. I will wear my new blue dress at the Christmas service. I asked my mother to buy me pink earrings for this dress.”

The eight year old girl was sparkling with joy.

laboni-with-all-her-gifts

Most of these children (especially the children who got registered less than a year ago) don’t understand the meaning of gifts as they never received any gift from anybody. The Christmas gifts from you, the sponsors, are teaching the children of the love of Christ.

By giving the joy to these children you are giving presents to the true KING, our Lord Jesus.

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  1. Dec 24, 2008
    at 3:31 pm

    This is an amazing Christmas story. It’s like a gift to me.

    One thing that I noticed, which I’m not sure if I’m reading too much into this, but the mother talked about giving meals during the food crises in the past tense. Does that mean that most of that crisis is over at least in Bangladesh? That would be really a great story!!!

    Kees

  2. Dec 24, 2008
    at 10:03 pm

    This is such a sweet story. Thanks so much for sharing this with us! I almost feel like I was there for the celebration!

  3. Dec 25, 2008
    at 12:29 am

    Hearing this story makes Christmas complete for me! I am so happy to know that Compassion is helping with useful gifts that families can use immediately. And I am happy to be part of an organization that loves children and shares God’s love with them. Merry Christmas!

  4. Sarah H.
    Dec 25, 2008
    at 5:26 pm

    What a wonderful Christmas story!

  5. Wanda W.
    Dec 25, 2008
    at 8:13 pm

    Thank you so much for the wonderful story and photos of Laboni! I am her Compassion sponsor and was so thrilled to see all the pictures of her having such a wonderful time with her friends and family as they celebrated Jesus Christ’s birth. Thank you to all the Compassion staff that made such a special celebration possible for these children – and sharing it with us – you are truly blessed! Glad tidings, Wanda W.

  6. Heather
    Dec 26, 2008
    at 10:11 am

    What a great Christmas story!! :) These children are so happy with any small gifts they get..It’s really refreshing to read about kids like this. :) Congratulations to Compassion on another new child development center! I’ve actually thought of sponsoring in Bangaladesh..

  7. Dec 27, 2008
    at 8:44 am

    I’ve been sponsoring for six years, now, and this is the first glimpse I’ve seen of how a project might handle the purchasing of Christmas gifts. I know that birthday gifts that we send are spent entirely on things that the child wants or needs. But I’d like to know how some other projects handle the Christmas gifts. Do they all buy the same things for the children?

    And, come to think of it, what did this project buy for the boys, in place of the dresses and sandals?

  8. Kemi
    Dec 27, 2008
    at 8:45 pm

    Thank you for sharing this story. I am glad that the not only the children were impressed with the gifts, but also their parents. I pray more support comes in to keep the work of Compassion going in this center and others. God bless you.

  9. Dec 29, 2008
    at 9:29 am

    I found this blog through the forallsponsors yahoo group. I was so touched by it. I am an active team member of a child sponsorship program in Haiti called His Hands for Haiti also our branch in Africa, His Hands for Africa (Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda). Sponsorship for the children in the world is one of the most important things we can do as followers of Christ.
    God bless you.
    Deborah

  10. Amber Van Schooneveld
    Dec 29, 2008
    at 1:22 pm

    Hi Vicki,

    Each country and each project might handle Christmas gifts a little differently, depending on the culture and the needs of that community. For example, in many African countries, it’s a tradition for people to buy new clothes for Christmas, so many projects choose to give the children clothes. In other countries or projects, the children might each pick out one toy they want. In other places, a blanket might be what is most needed.

    I’ll ask David, the author of this story, what the boys got at this project–though he is still on Christmas holiday right now. :)

  11. Amber Van Schooneveld
    Dec 29, 2008
    at 1:35 pm

    Hi Kees,

    The mother speaks in the past tense about the food being given because there was a special food distribution of rice and lentils for families in Bangladesh during July to October. This was in response to the rising food costs and in addition to the meals the children already regularly get at the project.

    The prices of food have fallen in Bangladesh in the past month or so, in response to the financial crisis. However, experts do not think it is quite enough to offset the inflation of food prices over the past several years. They expect food prices to remain about 25% higher than they had been before the food crisis for several years, though no one quite knows what to expect yet. Although the financial crisis has brought down some food prices, it can also have some very negative impacts on the developing world, such as factories having to close due to lack of demand. Here’s a good article I found on the topic from World Bank.

  12. Dec 31, 2008
    at 10:04 am

    This is a great story about how the completely different our cultures are from the USA to the countries where Compassion operates. Sometimes it is so hard for us Americans to wrap our minds around something that we just assume is normal, such as giving gifts. What a great reminder about how much we can learn from these precious children and also a great reminder about our perspective.

  13. Chad Summers
    Dec 31, 2008
    at 11:25 am

    Vicki,
    The boys of the Compassion Bangladesh Development Center received a new shirt, pants, sandals, a blanket, a towel as Christmas gifts. I am sending you a picture of three boys wearing their Christmas shirt and pants.

  14. Dec 31, 2008
    at 1:27 pm

    Thank you, Amber and Chad! And thanks for the picture of the three boys in their new shirts! God is good, and these kids and their families are learning that…if they didn’t know, before.

  15. Laura B.
    Jan 14, 2009
    at 3:24 pm

    My husband and I sponsor a boy in Bangladesh. We got a letter from him after we sent him a birthday gift. He said that he had never celebrated his birthday before. He got pants, shoes, a bat and ball, three wickets, a lantern, two chairs, a table, and some food–all for $25!! I am amazed at how the Compassion staff can make so little money go so far in helping these children. Thanks Compassion for all you do!

  16. Feb 9, 2009
    at 2:09 pm

    I absolutely loved reading about Christmas in Bagladesh. I was curious about the boys in the picture you sent. Is the middle one named Nobi. He’s my boy! The photo I have of him is over a year old. Either way it is wonderful to see how such a small donation every month can have such a glorious impact. Praise God and Praise to our loving Savior, Jesus.

  17. Feb 9, 2009
    at 3:48 pm

    Louise,

    What child development center is your boy a part of? You can tell by looking at the first five characters of your child’s number.

  18. Feb 10, 2009
    at 12:04 pm

    The first 5 characters are BD-xxx

  19. Feb 10, 2009
    at 1:17 pm

    Thank you Louise.

    The children in the story are part of a different child development center. The child in the photo isn’t Nobi.

  20. Allison Conn
    Feb 13, 2009
    at 9:39 pm

    This is so great! Thank you Laura B. for your info about the Birthday Gift. Our little boy (same age as our son) has a birthday in June. We are trying to teach our son about his “brother” in Bangladesh and what kinds of gifts we will give him (and why). This information will be very exciting for him. The boys are both 4 going on 5…cant wait for the day our son will be old enough to visit. It is hard to explain why we cant just fly him in to live with us!

  21. Jul 26, 2011
    at 5:59 pm

    Vastly fine blog post.

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