Yes, Christmas is over, but there is so much to report! So much happened at Impact during December to warm hearts and encourage people. Of course, the Christmas party brought joy to many children, but the collaboration of volunteers from various churches not only encourages us and those served, but plants seeds of ministry in the young and old alike. The effects of these efforts may never be fully tallied. Let me list a few more highlights from December.
The TOY DRIVES!!! Churches from all over Houston contributed to making the holidays happier by making it possible for families to provide gifts for their little ones and each other. Several churches, like Kingwood for example, committed to go Christmas shopping for over 100 families, then had those gifts sent to Impact to be distributed family by family. Bags of presents were labeled by family. Each family member that applied to receive something gave their name, gender, age, and sometimes a specific wish or need. Many wishes were granted and gift cards were often provided to help in other areas. Other churches and individuals help hundreds more families by sending in new toys to the Impact distribution center.
Christmas parties were held here and there. Various members got together in big groups and small. The Impact staff even had a gift exchange at the office, following their monthly birthday celebration.
I, personally, love to go caroling, but not alone. I was blessed to have the Miller family be willing to hit a few homes with me, so off we went to sing to friends and strangers in Fifth Ward. Apparently, judging by the reaction of the folks who witnessed this group of troubadors, caroling is not that common in their neighborhoods. We got a lot of strange looks, curious onlookers, but mostly appreciation for stopping by to sing. Several families were Hispanic, and although not everyone understood the lyrics, the sentiment was obvious, and thus reciprocated. I have to include my personal gratitude to the Miller family, who not only showed up to carol and croon, but who chose a repetoire of choruses, but arranged and practice each choice to make the presentation an extra special treat for their audiences. We visited a family who recently lost a house to a fire, a young teen who has been in and out of the hospital for months now, a family of 8 who are fitting into a tiny house, and several other members who we thought could use an extra dose of cheer. One apartment complex was especially touched by the tiny concert. Although we were unsure how we would be recieved by all, we knew the person we were there to see would be thrilled. Our friend Darrell not only came out all smiles, but he joined in and commenced to direct us, making us an even greater spectacle. Sure, many came out wondering what in the world was going on. Little by little a crowd gathered. Curiosity turned into joy as more and more joined in and some shouted out requests. It was an evening of blessing, at least for me.
Outside of toy drives, parties, caroling, and shopping for others, Impact was also able to continue serving as usual, and was even able to arrange a special Christmas meal or two for the homeless, in addition to the normal routine. These activites make momentary differences, but as I mentioned earlier, we never know the extent of a single action. By continuing to do the things that serve others whenever we can, we develop habits, character, friendships, opportunites, and gifts that God can continue to use in whatever way He desires. We celebrate all such activities, because they celebrate our Lord. A belayed "Merry Christmas," and a "Happy New Year" to you!