Although we found some of the students, it was impossible to find them all. There were a few roads that we knew were out of the question. Once we made it off the muddy roads, we had a handful of sticker bags left, so once again, we prayed that we could somehow find the children who would benefit the most from our little offering.
We headed to the closest town, Federal, which was about 30 minutes away. While passing through, I noticed a small neighborhood from a distance. It was rough. I saw barefoot children playing in the dirt. We took the closest exit and started looking for recipients.
In Argentina, especially in the more poor areas, the only way to essentially ‘knock’ or ‘ring the bell’ is to stand from a distance and clap as loud as you can. I remember hearing stories about my older brother doing this as a missionary in northern Argentina 10 years ago. It was surreal for me to be standing in front of these homes doing that very thing.
We found this little house and started clapping.
An emotional father approached us as my girls and I shouted “Santa’s elves!” AnnMarie was still clapping, but faster now while she laughed with a sticker bag in her hands. I couldn’t hold back the tears. He hugged me and simply said, “Gracias.”
Sweet little Julieta, 3 years old
Their next door neighbors were a little hesitant to greet us, but once they found out what we were doing, they were appreciative and receptive.
Roman, age 3
This little boy was absolutely overjoyed with the stickers. He made my heart swell a hundred times; he was so stinkin’ cute!! Look at him in this next picture with his two older sisters, Tiara (age 5) and Joanna (age 9). He’s like, ‘best gift ever!’ He kissed my girls which caught them off guard, but he was pretty pumped up about this whole thing.
We saw these next two little girls watching us from a distance. They were so humble. I partly expected girls that young to run towards us for a gift bag, but they just watched and waited to see if they might get one, too. I could hardly get them to look me in the eye. Simply precious.
Mili and Acelina (ages 2 & 4)
More children we found:
Great power comes when offering gifts with love. At times it has been so difficult to be away from the loved ones we cherish and the scenes we well know, but we are grateful for this opportunity to give.
We’re looking forward to the next few days as we continue to work with the LDS missionaries. We met with MANA earlier this week and distributed almost 100 ziplock bags chuck full of sticker goodness. It was awesome. I’ll share soon.
Have a wonderful, tradition-filled, Merry Christmas Eve full of love, good food, and hopefully, service.