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Bringing Christmas to cancer-stricken children in Cuernavaca

Stephen Larriva

I sat in the grass in the hospital courtyard, taking a short break and soaking up the warmth of the sun. A young girl timidly approached me. I had noticed that she had wanted to talk to me earlier and her parents had encouraged her to do so, but I was not able to stay in one place too long. The many details that come up when organizing an event like this can keep you on your toes. Thankfully, now things were moving smoothly and I had a minute to catch my breath. I sat quietly and smiled, not wanting to scare her as she worked up the courage to approach the bald gringo (foreigner). She was a small girl; my guess was about 6 or 7 years old. She swam in a sweater 2 sizes too large and walked with the slow, tired steps of someone who was coming to the end of a very long journey.

”Sir, my name is Rosa Linda. I wanted to say thank you for bringing Christmas to us.” She rested her hand on my shoulder to steady herself. I reached out my arms to hug her and she climbed into my lap. She was much lighter than I expected. The other children began to form lines, laughing and shouting in anticipation, as the piñata was hung. She seemed content to rest in my lap and watch the scene unfold. She pointed out her 2 younger brothers who had come to the event as they waited for a turn to try to hit the piñata. They were both healthy and strong.

“My brother is 9 and the other is 7. I am the oldest. I turned 11 in September. I have cancer.” She said, matter-of-factly.

We sat for a few more minutes in silence, and I noticed she was cradling in her arms the colorful books, coloring book and color pencils that she received in a gift package earlier. I have never been comfortable with silence, so to fill the void I began to explain where each of the gifts had come from. “These story books are from a group of people that live in another country, but they love children very much. They sent theses books so I could give them to you. Another man purchased hundreds and hundreds of color pencils so each child could have a set to take home…” She looked up at me and I sensed that she had something that she wanted to tell me. She whispered. “I have been sick for so long, I haven’t been able to come outside for ages. Last week I was lying in my hospital bed, trying to remember what the color green looks like, and I couldn’t even remember.” She clutched the packet of books and colors. “Thank you for bringing color back into my life!” As we sat together watching the festivities unfold, tears rolled down my cheeks and I thanked God that we could play a part in giving these precious children a special Christmas.

Rosa Linda is one of 378 children who received gift packages of children’s story and coloring books donated by Activated Ministries and art supplies donated by local businesses, during our Christmas project “Una Navidad Para Compartir.” (A Christmas to Share) This annual project, organized by “La Familia Morelos” has been instrumental in bringing Christmas to the underprivileged children and orphans in the State of Morelos. The parties included face painting, clowns, a meal, cake, ice-cream, a puppet show, presents, and the traditional Christmas piñata filled with tasty treats. Volunteers from all walks of life gave of their time and money to make these parties possible and provide the children individualized attention during the party.

This Christmas, the events included a party hosted in a lovely hotel and attended by the children from the boy’s and girl’s orphanages “Casa Eugenia”. In Atlixco, Puebla, a local restaurant gave us use of their location to host a party for over 90 children with various severe disabilities. We also partnered with the State run children’s hospital to organize three separate events for children with AIDS, cancer patients, and the general hospital population. The children in this hospital mainly come from the small, desperately poor, outlying towns and villages in this state. For many of the children who received the gift packages this Christmas, the books will be some of their most treasured possessions. Thank you Activated Ministries for helping us give them such a special Christmas!