Thursday, December 29, 2016

A Gift for Jenny

Jenny was the last of our visits on the Friday before Christmas.  Some of the ladies from the church had prepared baskets for the shut ins and Larry and I had volunteered to drop some off at the nursing home for three of our former members. We didn't have a lot of time so we spent just a few minutes with each of the ladies, long enough to wish them a Merry Christmas and to say a prayer.  Jenny has no connections to our church, but there is never a time that we don't stop, speak to her for a few moments and then pray for her.   We first became somewhat acquainted with her when she was rooming with one of our ladies.  She was difficult and cantankerous back then and probably lonely. So we adopted her, kind of, and always make a point of stopping in, even if just for a moment.  

With the three baskets delivered we made a hasty entrance into Jenny's room.  This would be short.   She was alone, no roommate in sight.  She sat in her wheelchair looking straight ahead and seemed to be having a conversation with someone, herself perhaps.  Larry spoke first.  "Hello Jenny, we came to wish you a Merry Christmas."  She looked up at us as if surprised, not quite registering who we were. I never know if she recognizes us from one visit to the next.  I suspect not.  After the greeting Larry asked if we could pray for her.  I had taken her hand, and holding it gently began to rub it softly.  At the close she made the sign of the cross.  She had told me once that she had been Methodist but I wasn't so sure.   "I felt so peaceful when you prayed for me," she said softly.  Perhaps these visits did mean something to her.

"I wish we'd brought something for Jenny."  I'd felt something while holding her hand and was having trouble holding back the tears.  Larry started up the car.  "We can pick her up something and come back," he said.  I shook my head.  "No, we don't have time."   But as we started back down the highway I still saw that neat little room, completely devoid of Christmas.  A small plaza not too far from the nursing home has a Rite-Aid drug store with a couple of gift aisles and I knew what we needed to do.  Fifteen minutes later we were on our way back to the nursing home.  Time no longer seemed all that important.  

I don't know if she remembered that we had been there not even a half an hour earlier but that wasn't important.  I loosed the cream-colored fleece throw from its packaging.  We had searched the aisles for what we thought would be the perfect gift for her.  The moment I felt the plush softness of the blanket I knew.  This was Jenny's.

She watched me open then spread out the present we had brought her.  "Do you think you could fold it back up for me?" she asked.  I nodded but insisted that first she needed to let me lay it close so she could feel its softness.  I covered her with the throw and she began to run her hands through its folds as Larry opened the card and read to her.  It was time for us to go.  I asked her if she'd like me to fold it for her and lay it on the bed.  "Do you think you could leave it here on my lap for now?"   I tucked it in a bit deeper, glad that we had returned and silently praying that it would bring her a sense of comfort in the loneliness of that room.  

Larry reading Jenny her card as she holds her gift 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Jossy's Christmas Gift

Chuck is a busy guy living in upstate New York with a full-time job and running his own business on the side.  We knew him as a big, strapping teenager when he came to Honduras with a work team but had lost track of him a long time back.  Somehow his name came up in a recent conversation with Larry and on a whim I went to my facebook page and typed his name into the search bracket.  Voila, there he was!  Within minutes after sending him a friend request I heard back in the affirmative.  We had reconnected.  

Scrolling down through the comments a few days ago my eyes stopped at a Chuck post.  Seems that on top of everything else he's been playing Santa over the past few weeks.  Here's a bit of what he wrote:  "I've heard many different requests from kids for different things like Nerf guns, Barbie doll houses, puppies and Hatchimals (whatever they are.) But last night I met a little girl named Jossy. She ran right up and hugged me.  As she climbed up on my lap I asked what she wanted for Christmas.  She leaned in and whispered in my ear,  'Santa, I don't want any toys, I just want friends.'  This completely caught me off guard.  You see, Josie has Down's Syndrome."  Chuck went on to say how deeply moved he was by the little girl's request and whispered back to her that he would always be her friend.  Hugging his neck and with tears in her eyes, she assured him that she would be the same for him.

If I'd passed Jossy in the corridor of a mall holding onto the hand of her father, perhaps I might have noticed the markings of Down's upon her face, but I would never have suspected what longings lay deep within her heart.  She is a believer, however, and trusts this large man in a red suit and big black boots with her one desire.  So she opens her heart and asks for it.  "Santa, I just want friends."

Jossy's story doesn't end on the lap of Santa Clause.  Dozens read and then shared the account with others.  One who read is not only a friend of Chuck's but knows this child's family as well. She sent the post on to them and upon reading and seeing the touching and affirmative responses of so many, Jossy's dad wrote, "My wife and I are overwhelmed.  We have had a tough couple of months and your encouragement and prayers are what we desperately need.  Thank you!"  

And so it continues.  Many have inquired about sending a note or card to this beautiful little girl,  and her family has graciously shared their address.  If you'd like to be a part of this special story, here it is:

Jocelyn Vinette
950 Altamont Blvd.
Apartment 13
Altamont, NY 12009
The 4 J's (Joe, Jennifer, Joselyn &Jayden).

And while you're at it, maybe think about including a card or note to the rest of the family.  They've obviously had some challenges and encouragement is one of the most beautiful gifts we can give each other. After all, it's Christmas, the time when we were given the ultimate gift from God Himself in the person of a Child.  What better way to honor the season than to love a child and her family in this small yet tangible way.  Chuck ends his story something like this: "Take a little time to love on people. Besides, you just don't know what kind of impact it might have on you."  It obviously did on him.   He found that out the night a little girl named Jossy whispered into his ear.

Santa Chuck with Jossy and her little brother Jayden