Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Giving the gifts of JOY, LOVE & HOPE into 2008!

We just returned from an incredible trip to the Yucatan for Christmas. Thanks to the generosity of all of our Carrie's Heart supporters we were again able to give the gifts of JOY, LOVE & HOPE to our special children in Mexico.
Our journey began with getting as many donations down into the Yucatan as possible. Two special young ladies from the Katy, Texas community had spent part of their holiday picking out special gifts for our new little girl Lucelly. We had to make sure all the special gifts would make it onto "Santa's sleigh" and through Mexican customs without a hitch. Thanks to the cooperative efforts of DIF Cozumel, the Director of Aduana Cozumel & our local Carrie's Heart representative Rosy Pirez we were able to get in everything smoothly.

Having had delays in our flight we had to literally stuff ourselves into the car (our third "sleigh" of the trip) and set off for last minute purchases & to pick up Santa from the ferry prior to the beginning of the CAM Cozumel Christmas Party. We pulled everything off in time and the party was perfect. The staff & students at CAM Cozumel had spent weeks preparing decorations and dances for the audience to enjoy. The creativity of the production was incredible. The little dancing reindeer were adorable. Santa played by Roy Fisher of Playa del Carmen was enjoyed by all the kids. The children's faces were filled with the JOY of Christmas.

The greatest joy that I personally received this year was watching others on my Cozumel team as they for the first time experienced the overwhelming emotions of the fruition of all of their labors in watching the JOY on each child's face. The emotions felt after months of preparations, fundraising, shopping, coordinating, fixing, decorating...all coming out when you see that special child receive with JOY the bike that you had a part in giving him. Thank you to our driver, assistant, & friend...Jorge of Cozumel for sharing his first special moment of true JOY with are hooked now! Another special thanks to Rosy Pirez and Directora Rita of CAM for all their hard work in making this party such a success.

The CAM Playa Christmas Party was equally as beautiful this year. Thank you to Lavonna Redman of Angel Notion for sharing her incredible pictures of her party that Angel Notion and the community of Playa del Carmen helped sponsor!

The time spent with each of our families giving out the gifts of LOVE & HOPE was very special. Each family was given gifts for the children in the family, special gifts for each sponsored child and a gift card to use for the holiday meal / needs. In addition this year Houston based massage therapist Jessi Dickson gave each of our mothers a special gift. Each mother received an in home chair massage session and special personal care products. Such an unexpected gift for these women who work so hard to care for their families and have never experienced the gift of caring for themselves. Thank you Jessi for all of your tireless work!

Some highlights of the family visits include:

Barely fitting into our new Santa's sleigh...our driver & assistant Marco's new Suburban. We had it completely loaded with only enough space for four passengers as we set off to spread LOVE & HOPE to our families! Thank you Paige for the great mix of the best of 2006-2007 Carrie's Heart Christmas tunes CD...thanks to you are sleigh bells were a jing jing jingling!

Carlitos - using a lap desk brought from Houston & his new "Mi Primera PC" leap pad computer learning toy for the first time. Carlitos was amazing! Within 15 minutes he went from learning how to move the mouse to switching between games on the desktop! The lap desk & computer game were two gifts bought seperately by Jessi & Carrie...without knowledge of how he would need them both to be able to use his new toy. An example of one of our great serendipitous moments in Mexico!

Valerie - spending time with Valerie and her "boys" at Ciudad de los Ninos in Chetumal. Valerie is living with 5 boys who also have similar physical & mental disabilities at the center. She has a special relationship with Panchito who has claimed her as his girlfriend since she arrived in May. It is always a highlight of our trips having time to give JOY & LOVE to these special children. They all loved receiving personal care products, clothing, music and storybook CDs. We also spent time in Cozumel with Valerie's mother, sister & cousins. We continue to work with the family in preparation for Valerie's possible return home.

Jose- Jose's family was ready and waiting for Santa's arrival with camera in hand! It was wonderful feeling the warm reception of the family. To our surprise Jose greeted us in English saying "Welcome". He was so proud of the English he has begun to learn. It was an incredible experience celebrating our first Christmas with Jose & his family. One special moment was giving Jose a bracelet that told of the story of Christmas with each stone signifying a part of the story. Another was Jose's huge smile while taking a picture with his two new best friends Marcos (our driver & assistant) and Jorge Carranza Samano (our new Family Psycologist - who taught him his English!).

David's House - Wow! We were welcomed in by close to 40 friends & family. Our two newest girls Lucelly & Perla Ruby and a new boy Christopher (Age 13) were also awaiting us along with their mothers. Prior to beginning the gift giving we were served a special meal by the family - including much needed ice cold cokes. We had begun our trip in Santa's sleigh at 8:00 in the morning & arrived at our final stop with David at 8:00 at night, returning to Playa by midnight! Phew! After refueling we went about spreading LOVE & HOPE to our sponsored children. Each child was given a stock of personal care supplies, diapers and supplement as needed. Christopher received the donation of a blue Convaid special needs stroller. His mother will now be able to transport him more easily within town. Freedom. David was given the donation of a brand new adapted bath chair. His mother will no longer have to have someone hold him in a plastic chair while she bathes him. Independence & safety. Lucelly was given a small suitcase full of bathing supplies, clothing and special gifts. The most poignant moment of the evening was explaining to the families how Lucelly had been adopted this Christmas by two very special girls. How the girls had hand picked her gifts for her with much LOVE. It was especially important for the group to gain the understanding that the stroller chair received by Christopher was once used by the brother with special needs of one of the girls who had sponsored Lucelly. A full circle moment of the families feeling that they are part of a larger community of support....the Carrie's Heart family!

Gladys- Arriving to find the surprise that the family had been able to get their first furnishings in their home since we have known them. The family of 5 lives in a small run down one room rental home. Up until now they have had no furnishings whatsoever - only hammocks and a few plastic chairs. Glady's mother greeted us saying that they had wanted to be able to offer a home and a place to sit for their visitors. This is a HUGE step for this family in moving in the direction of a functional home environment for their family. The ongoing gifts of HOPE given to this family this year allowed them to have the extra finances to begin to create a HOME! We made the day extra special for Glady's mom...I took all the kids out shopping with us for their "cool clothes" while she had her home spa treatment!

Juan Diego - On the first night in Cozumel after the CAM party we had the opportunity to visit with Juan Diego's mom at the small convenience store owned by her sister where Leticia now has a part time job. We enjoyed visiting for about an hour and Leticia enjoyed receiving her extra special treatment by Jessi - her first ever "Mexican Mini-Super Plastic Chair Massage"! We also got to see the new bed that Juan Diego received for Christmas from Paddi & John of Amigos de Jose! Thank you Paddi & John for your work on that project!

Our wish is that the true feelings of each moment will come through in the words and the pictures that we share. Thanks to each of you & your support of Carrie's Heart Christmas we have already had the opportunity to spread your gifts of JOY & LOVE to our children in the Yucatan. We look forward to all the gifts of true HOPE that we, with your help, will continue to spread to our families throughout the New Year!

With JOY, LOVE & HOPE for 2008!


Check out all the great Carrie's Heart Christmas 2007 pics on our

flickr page by following the link below:

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