No, don't go running to your calendars and don't think I've finally gone off the deep end, but if you want to participate in what seems to be a nice program to help make a good Christmas for kids who might not otherwise have a good Christmas, you only have 10 days left. Let me explain, and then at the end of this entry, I want to talk about my guilty feelings about this and about Compassion International.
There are lots of ways to give to underprivileged kids at Holiday time, but I kind of liked this organization that you may have heard of. It's called Samaritan's Purse and the idea is that you fill a shoe box with goodies for children for Christmas. You wrap the box and take it to a drop-off site and it is combined with all the other boxes and they are shipped to children around the world.
This morning I went to give blood (successfully, this time...yay!), then had my hair cut, and then went to the Dollar Store to see how much bang I could get for my bucks. (Ironically I saw my "real" hairdresser down an aisle, and tried to hide so he couldn't see that I had obviously just had my hair cut!)
I had four piles of things in my basket -- one for me (just a pair of Christmas socks, since I don't think I have any to wear this year), one for the Compassion kids (coloring book, stickers, and a puzzle), and then a stack for a young boy and one for a young girl.
You really can get a lot for a little amount of money. I bought coloring books, crayons (64 pack, not that cheap 8 pack!), Christmas pencils, warm gloves, kid-patterned tooth brushes, brightly colored bandaids, bubble soap, kazoos, and Christmas candy for both boxes. Then I got a little car, ball, and Spiderman digital watch for the boy and a little stuffed puppy (of course), and headbands for a little girl. I will add more things after I fill a shoebox and see how much room is left over.
I wanted to do this last year, but by the time I found out about it, it was too late.
This is, of course, a non-denominational Christian group which is running this program, as is the group which runs Compassion International.
I got my second letter from Fred, in the Philippines, yesterday and I must admit to feeling some guilt about the whole "Christian" thing. One thing that is stressed over and over again is how important our sponsorship is in the Christian development of our sponsored children and we are always encouraged to pray for our kids and to encourage them to go to church.
Well, my problem is that I believe there is a supreme being, who may be God or may be Allah or may be Buddha or may be Mork from Ork (or is more probably "S/he who has no name" because I also believe that s/he has no gender either!)
I believe there is more to existence than this one life and I believe there is an afterlife. I have to hang onto that because I'm determined to ground Dave and Paul for all eternity for being so stupid (tho s/he who has no name may have already taken care of some sort of "Stupidity Consequence" by now).
But the last time I actually prayed was after Gilbert died. I took his relatives to lunch in Chinatown, dropped them off at the restaurant, parked across the street from my favorite Catholic church in San Francisco and stopped in to say a prayer for him. I don't think I've officially prayed since, though I may have said words in unison with other people when the time was appropriate.
I feel I am a spiritual person, but I've had such problems with organized religions -- lots of them. So I don't go to church, and I don't create an alternate church-like "thing" that I do on a regular or irregular basis to ritualize any sort of worship of a higher power. I just try to live a good life, do what I can when I can do it, and hope that this is the plan that I'm supposed to be following.
But I do feel like I'm kind of an in-the-closet non-Christian. It's not that I'm a non-Christian. I think there are lots of wonderful people who are Christians, just as there are lots of wonderful Jews and Muslims and atheists, etc. I believe that Jesus lived and died, whether he was actually "god" or simply "god's messenger." I just have not, to use the proper terminology "taken Jesus Christ into my heart as my Lord and Savior." That doesn't mean I haven't unofficially done so. It's just that I haven't had that religious transformation that so many speak about.
But I admire what these missionaries are doing for children in need and I think that they probably need my money more than they need my piety....and you don't see a lot of non church types out there running schools for poor children.
But it makes it feel awkward to speak in "tongues" (as it were) and to answer Fred's mother's question, which was "How's your life for being Christian. What year you've been a Christian?"I think I'm going to tell her that I was born into a religious family and learned about Jesus in school. And then I'll send Fred a sheet of stickers that I found at the Dollar Store today, which are designed for religion school kids. Think that will work without actually lying about anything?