Sunday, January 5, 2014

Our Orphanage Christmas Part 3

(Written by  Ed.)

It is another year and I find myself writing my report of the service, and not making the dead line. May I ask for a little slack this time (1) because I am another year older and (2) because I am in Africa and they never do anything on time. It takes forever to get things done, so I guess I am now part Congolese.

I think Mom and I could have given this project to our whole family because of the support you have given us to be here on our mission.  However… this year it is Wayne's great pleasure to receive my service.

Sometimes I find it difficult to find something that can truly relate to the person to whom you give the service, but not this year. I am very lucky to have Wayne… or I could say it was a great blessing to the orphanage to have our Christmas service be for Wayne. I can remember as a very young boy the many times during the Christmas season some one would come by and ask each of us what we wanted for Christmas. With that memory in mind, it was an easy decision to take Christmas to the orphans that are looked after by a wonderful sister in the church… who reminders me of my mom.

Now, why is my project for Wayne? Most of us have been to the Dittbrenner home and know how much Wayne likes you to come in … and make your self yourself right at home… take your shoes off, put your feet up and relax. Big No! At Wayne’s house… we all wear shoes! So, don't worry Wayne. When any of our orphan children come to visit you, they will have shoes on… and you may find they will not let those shoes out of their sight.

We went to see the orphans about 10 days before Christmas. When we were leaving, one fun little nine year old boy walked out to the car with us. He said... in French… “Please shoes-no food” and showed Mom his scarred up feet. It was then that I decided on my service project.  At first we thought we may find some at the market that has second hand shoes. That proved a bad idea, because there weren’t many used tennis shoes… just dress shoes.

We had a wonderful experience taking the oldest 6 boys shopping  We wanted to make sure that the shoes would fit.  We decided to go to the best store that sells food, and some clothes and some shoes. When we got there and we gave them the price range to look at, there were not many great choices. These boys, ages 9 to 17, had never had a new pair of shoes. The younger ones had never had anything but flip flops. They saw these great basketball shoes, with many bright colors. Their eyes lit up when they saw them. I could feel them thinking “Wow, we wish we could get these” but they could see that they were out of the price range we had given them. They continued to look to see what they could find in the right price.

About this time my mind went back to when I was very young and we would get to go to Deseret Industries and get new shoes. Don't get me wrong, I really appreciated what we got, but there was not much choice. I decided that we would give these 6 boys the shoes they wanted. You would have thought we gave them the world. Such joy, and oh, the excitement… jumping up and down and hugging each other. They were truly happy for each other and so appreciative to us. It was truly worth it to see and feel the excitement in their lives.

Each boy wanted to carry their own box out to the truck. We had told them that they couldn’t take the shoes home with them, and they would get them back in 4 days for Christmas. It was like they were saying goodbye to their best friends.

On Christmas day, when we got to the orphanage, my heart sank to see the condition that these kids live in and what they go through just to survive. Many times during the afternoon while we ate and gave out the presents, I would look over at our mission present and our eyes would meet as the tears rolled down our cheeks.

When the gifts were given out and we came to handing out the boxes of shoes, tied with yellow bows… these boys jumped had yelled with such joy, that I don't think there was a dry eye amongst the Missionary couples. I know that it was very hard for me then, as it is now as I write this to keep it under control.

So to my wonderful son Wayne, I thank you for giving me the opportunity to do this service in behalf of you, because I know that you would want them to have shoes when they come to visit!?!?!

Thanks to all and please, cherish all that you have.

Love Elder (Dad) Gates

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