The joy of giving in Costa Rica
Have you ever thought what it would be like to treat Christmas day like any other day of the year? No presents, no stockings or nice dinners. For those of us in the Western world, that can be hard to imagine.
In Talamanca, Costa Rica, the nearest mall is a six-hour drive away. Many of the indigenous people who live in this area are too poor to exchange gifts with each other.
More importantly, many of them don’t know Jesus as their saviour.
OM has set their sights on three communities in the Talamanca region of Costa Rica. My brother and I joined a team of 10 for OM’s annual “Festival of Smiles,” which is for the children of these communities.
The team had one outreach for each of the three communities, which involved a skit that told the meaning of Christmas, fun songs, and giving out shoeboxes loaded with toys for the children. These shoeboxes were the only gifts the kids received for Christmas and, when they got them, their smiles went from ear-to-ear.
I remember packing shoeboxes for needy children in other countries when I was at my American church, but to be there when the people received the boxes was such a cool experience!
My favourite moment was watching kids walking back to their homes in the jungle carrying their shoebox presents, sometimes on horseback (which of course caught my eye for a photo).
OM is doing more than just giving out Christmas shoeboxes. They have invested a lot of time and resources into these communities to build relationships with the locals.
Our team visited a lady who is taking care of five disabled people on her own. They loved the songs we sang and games we played with them. Afterwards, they were filled with even more joy as they opened their Christmas shoeboxes.
As I was watching our team interact with them, I was thinking, “How much more joy, as followers of Jesus, do we have when we get opportunities to share Christ with the people around us?”
I think as a team, we had more joy being the ones giving, because the response to the Gospel is just that: to share with others the joy that Christ brings us.
To see that being lived out was a huge blessing for me. I will always remember the kids' smiles when I pack a Christmas shoebox in the future.