Real Gift Giving 3

Giving back helps us remember the reason for the season

This year I traveled on a mission trip to Lima, Peru where I was confronted with a level of poverty that I never knew existed. The poorest in our society often are wealthy by developing nation’s standards. The experience reset my view of how blessed we are and the meaningful difference between ‘wants’ and ‘needs.’

The Peruvians we met had almost nothing and yet they were happy. Like us, they love their families, worry about the future and work hard to make things work. Unlike us, they do not focus on material things or trivial inconveniences.

In our culture, we get annoyed when experiencing a delay caused by airport security lines or a lack of comfortable leg room on flights. The people I met had never been on an airplane.

We struggle to sort and discard all of the excess belongings that accumulate around us during our lifetime while they share space in empty, unfurnished rooms.

While in Peru, I met an eight year old girl named Luisa who was taking odd jobs to earn enough money to buy a baby doll at the local market. If she was successful it would be the only toy she would own.

We entered homes that had dirt floors and no roof. In one such home, I met a convivial gentleman named Teodoro who had worked as a miner his entire life until a mine explosion took both of his hands and, by extension, his livelihood. With the part of his arms he still had, Teodoro warmly embraced me and asked how he could help me. Unbeknownst to him, he already had.

I traveled 3,200 miles from my Vinings home to try and help meet needs and mend hearts in Peru. The people I met there changed mine forever without ever leaving their living rooms.

With all of the materialism surrounding us this Christmas season, I hope that we keep life in perspective and give generously to those who are less fortunate than us. I hope that Luisa wakes up with a baby doll on Christmas morning. And, I hope that we all remember the One after whom the season is named. Like Teodoro, He entered the world into a space with a dirt floor and no roof, lived an impoverished life and enriched the rest of us by giving us the greatest Gift of all.

(Read more on SouthernReflections.com)