From a worker in Central Asia
Every year, starting about a week before New Year’s, various families and groups of friends set off fireworks, culminating in a grand display all over the city at midnight on New Year’s Eve. I’m not sure where the people get the money to personally buy such impressive fireworks, and I’m certain it is quite dangerous, yet it’s more impressive than anything I’ve seen in the US. Fireworks aren’t sent up in only one location, but rather from thousands of yards all over the city. Then, in the wee hours of the morning, the family (including the youngest children), sits down to a feast.
Most people in this country believe, superstitiously, that how they greet the New Year will indicate what sort of year they will have. So they are certain to clean their house well on New Year’s Eve and to have plenty of food on the table for their first meal. They also give gifts to one another. Many stay up until dawn, laughing and talking together as a family.
And so our team felt a burden for those who are lying in the hospital on this holiday. Can you imagine how someone, so sick or injured that they can’t leave the hospital for the celebration at home, might feel if they believe that how they greet the New Year indicates what their whole year will be like? We felt that this was the perfect time to show those in this situation that God hadn’t forgotten them and to give them a blessing in the midst of their sadness. So we decided to distribute 300 gifts at the hospital on New Year’s Eve. Thanks to money sent from our supporters, our team was able to collect almost $2,000 to purchase these gifts. The main item was a 2013 calendar with verses of Scripture on each page. Since almost no one here knows where to buy a calendar, this was by far the most cherished part of the gift. We also added a banana, mandarin oranges, yogurt, cream, cookies and candy, soap, and a toothbrush and toothpaste to each bag.
When we arrived at the hospital on New Year’s Eve, the director was there to greet us. He personally took us to each ward of the hospital. We entered the patients’ rooms and gave the gifts to each patient. In many of the rooms the patients thanked us countless times and wished a blessing on us. Children sat up and grinned. Some of the older ladies gave us kisses. And we were able to tell them that the gifts were not from us but from the Lord.