Angels on Christmas Day

Christmas Eve.
My most favorite day of the whole year.
The lights of the tree, the smell of apple cider,
The cool winds that blow even here in the tropics.
The preparations for Christmas morning.
No other eve is filled with the anticipation and excitement.

For some of our children, this will be the first Christmas ever
With presents and so much food.
Their little hearts trusting, waiting and so full of joy.
For many, it will be the first real celebration of the birth of Jesus.

The children are all in their beds
Kissed and hugged.
Tucked in with promises of lovely gifts.
All but for one little one.

This precious waif came to us only three days ago
Already terribly compromised.
Already too sick.
Diagnosed with something too hard to pronounce
And with no cure or management.

In between wrapping gifts, fixing shoeboxes, and scurrying about,
We took turns holding her.
Singing to her. Praying over her.
Stuck in a world of in-between.
Looking for the angels.

And just as Christmas Eve turned into Christmas Day,
She took her last breath.

Stunned, I sat still for a few moments, holding her.
Unsure of how to feel. A sudden sadness filling my heart.
Such a conflict…
Thinking about this day and its festivities about to dawn.
Christmas Day is a celebration of the reasons we have hope.
That baby born that brought hope to this pathetic, painful world.

Quiet peace filled my heart.
And I am thankful to know that on this day, this tiny one,
Went ahead of us and saw the bright lights of heaven.
How they must have been amazing.
And how she heard the choirs of angels singing.
Glory to God. The harmony would have been truly glorious.

A Day of celebration like nothing else.

Merry Christmas, little one.

Charity Graff
Executive Director
In October this year myself and 11 year old daughter Mackenzie had the privilege to travel from New Zealand to Manila to spend two weeks with the team and children at Gentle Hands. Mackenzie and I were praying about an opportunity to head overseas and spend time in an orphanage. After researching about short term mission trips, it seemed that Mackenzie's age was going to become a problem. But I believed that Mackenzie could bring a whole raft of skills and abilities that only a child could bring to another child. I knew that Mackenzie, even from another country, speaking a different language, would relate and bring a deep sense of advocacy and friendship, in a way only a child could . My prayer was for Mackenzie's faith to be deepened from this experience. My prayer was that her heart may be broken for what breaks God's heart. To be inspired to advocate, and partner with God's vision for the orphaned child.

I emailed the team at Gentle Hands regarding the opportunity for us to spend time with them. Charity and Nathan were excited about Mackenzie coming over, and knew the emotional and spiritual value of a young girl wanting to leave her home land to travel and spend time with the children of Gentle Hands.
To this day I am overwhelmed by the impact our time at Gentle Hands has had on Mackenzie. She cuddles us that little bit longer, she makes sure she kisses us every night, tells us she loves us. She is able to forgive easier, and she is able to talk about her emotions more. She now has a deeper appreciation for her life in New Zealand but ironically she is desperate to be back in the Philippines. She made some very special friends,
whom she misses dearly. 

Our experience at Gentle Hands has changed both our lives. It was like being part of a big family. The children's sincere joy and hope that radiated from each child was abundant. The way each child is seen as unique, is evident by the holistic care they all receive. The healing process is well under way for these precious children. They have dreams, desires, talents, gifts and faith. They know they each have a plan and purpose. The Gentle Hands organisation is doing orphan care so well. The team at Gentle Hands are at the forefront of advocacy, they push for the children's rights, and love each of them beautifully. 
We have been overwhelmingly blessed this year, especially on Christmas!
Our favorite time of year as a family is when we get to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. We celebrate how He has faithfully carried us through this year. Our children are all unique and precious in God's eyes. There are some new faces and some who have called Gentle Hands home for a while. Some we have cared for, for only a few days, have never known a Christmas before. 
With your generosity we were able to bless our children with new shoes, a toy and some new clothes. If only you could see the pure joy on every face as they unwrapped their very own gifts, handpicked for them. 
We are so thankful that the Lord brings wonderfully generous people such as yourself into our world to bless us. 
Thank you once again, words cannot express our appreciation for you!
In order for us to provide the holistic care that our children deserve, we need continuous
prayers and support from people like you.