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Volume II
December 23, 2004

A Christmas Letter from my Parents

My Parents are serving a mission in Thailand for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. A good friend of theirs just sent them this story and they shared it with us.

Dan Oaks

John and his wife Nancy have adopted a number of their children from Russian orphanages)

     In 1994, two Americans answered an invitation from the Russian Department of Education to teach in Russia.  They were invited to teach at many places including a large orphanage.  About 100 boys and girls who had been abandoned, abused  and left in the care of a government run program were in the orphanage.  The two Americans related the following story in their own words.

     It was nearing the holiday season, 1994, time for our orphans to hear, for the first time, the traditional story of Christmas.  We told them about Mary and Joseph arriving in Bethlehem.  Finding no room in the inn, the couple went to a stable, where the baby Jesus was born and placed in a manger.  Throughout the story, the children and orphanage staff sat in fascination as they listened.  Some sat on the edges of their stools, trying to grasp every word.

     Completing the story, we gave the children three small pieces of cardboard to make a crude manger.  Each child was given a small paper square, cut from yellow napkins I brought with me.  No colored paper was available in the city.  Following instructions, the children tore the paper and carefully laid strips in the manger for straw.  Small squares of flannel, cut from a worn-out nightgown and American lady was throwing away as she left Russia, were used for the baby's blanket.  A doll-like baby was cut from tan felt we had brought from the United States.

     The orphans were busy assembling their manger as I walked among them to see if they needed any help.  All went well until I got to one table where little Misha sat.  As I looked at the little boy's manger, I was startled to see not one, but two babies in the manger.  Quickly, I called for the translator to ask the lad why there were two babies in the manger.  Crossing his arms in front of him and looking at this completed manger scene, the child began to repeat the story very seriously.  For such a young boy, who had only heard the Christmas story once, he related the happenings accurately--until he came to the part where Mary put the baby Jesus in the manger.  Then Misha start to ad-lib.

      He made up his own ending to the story as he said " And when Maria laid the baby in the manger, Jesus looked at me and asked me if I had a place to stay.  I told him I have no mamma and I have no papa, so I don't have any place to stay.  Then Jesus told me I could stay with him.  But I told him I couldn't because I didn't have a gift to give him like everybody else did.  But I wanted to stay with Jesus so much, so I  thought about what I had that maybe I could use for a gift.  I thought maybe if I kept him warm that would be a good gift.  So I asked Jesus, "If I keep you warm will that be a good enough gift?"  And Jesus looked at me and he told me I could stay with him -- for always."

     As little Misha finished his story his eyes brimmed full of tears that splashed down his little cheeks.  Putting his hand over his face, his head dropped the table and his shoulders s he sobbed and sobbed.  The little orphan had found someone who would never abandon nor abuse him, someone who would stay with him  --  for always.  I've learned that it's not what you have in your life, but who you have in your life that counts.


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