I just want to tell you about your Christmas gifts for this Christmas. You know how Grandpa just can’t resist buying Christmas gifts. So we went shopping on Christmas eve afternoon at the Giasano Grand Mall. The parking lot was filled with cars and motorcycles.
Cars in a parking lot? What’s so unusual about cars in a parking lot? Isn’t that why they call it a parking lot?
Well, here there is usually just a few cars and lots of motorcycles. (You should call them “motors”). Everyone else walks or rides on a tricycle.
No, not like the tricycle you rode before you were old enough to go to school. These tricycles are a motor (remember that means a motorcycle) attached to a side car with seats for people to sit on. One of the sister missionaries here wants to make a tricycle to drive around BYU Idaho after her mission.
We walked into the mall and rode the escalator upstairs. There were all the usual displays and racks, but squeezed in between were about a half dozen large discount tables piled high with clothes. People were looking through the clothes, clothes were scattered around on the floor, and exhausted clerks were trying to keep order in the chaos.
We picked out some cute blouses and skirts and dresses. As we started to the checkout stand, a clerk stopped us. It was her job to write down the bar code of each item anyone took from the tables. When she finished, we stood in the line to checkout. As the clerk there checked the clothes, she found that two of the items didn’t have a bar code. She took the items and disappeared in the crowd. Finally she returned.
There is no bar code, sir.
So what do we do?
You can’t buy these, sir.
Can’t you just put a price on them and let us buy them?
We can’t buy these?
No, sir. You can buy something else.
So we found some other things, and joined the long checkout line again. After we finally made our purchases, we went downstairs, went to the package deposit booth, where we took a number and left our package so that we could go into another store. There we put some food and candy in a tiny basket and joined a longer checkout line.
You knew Grandpa couldn’t get through Christmas without candy, didn’t you?
Then we went to the waterfront market to buy fresh fruit and gift bags.
Were the gift bags for your gifts? Well, of course. But you see, we met a mother in the market a couple of days ago. She works there. She has to be at work by 6:00 AM every day of the week, and usually gets home at 9:00 PM. She has three girls, ages five to sixteen. Her husband died about a year ago. Her seventeen year old son is in prison in Cebu City because he and some friends tried to steal a computer from the high school.
We knew that you would like to help this family, so we put your gifts in the bags…
Yes, of course, we put the candy, too.
…and we took the gifts to their home. It’s way out on a narrow road, where we turned onto a dirt road and passed three basketball courts…
No, the courts are not in buildings. They are patches of hard packed dirt with one hoop attached to a pole.
So we passed three basketball courts, and passed a big mango tree, and parked by a carabao.
No, a carabao is not another word for a place to park a car. It’s the name for a water buffalo. The man squatting beside his carabao stood up when he thought Grandpa was getting too close. It was quite dark then.
Then we walked up a narrow path and tried not to step in the mud puddles, until we came to the little house where the family lives. The mother wasn’t home yet, of course, so we gave your gifts to the girls. They saved the presents to open with their mother later.
We tried to sing Christmas carols for them. We really needed you to be there and sing with us. Can you all sing a carol now and we’ll pretend we are all standing outside the tiny home? The girls will try to hide their tears and smile and tell you thank you again and again.
Christmas breakfast? Of course we didn’t forget Christmas breakfast. We served orange juice and eggs and ham and unlimited pancakes with syrup and real butter and fruit. And Skippy’s peanut butter. Chunky, of course.
|You are right, you weren‘t here to eat it. But the twenty hungry missionaries who ate your share were really happy that you shared with them. I gave each of them a Christmas hug for you.
But Grandpa and Grandma, why couldn’t you just stay home and give us gifts and breakfast and hugs?
Now don’t say you didn’t say that. I heard you, even if you did say it really quietly.
It is a good question. We’ve asked that question ourselves. I guess the best answer is something a young missionary said. He said:
I left my family for a short time so that families here could be together forever.