“Regalo de Amor,” New Era, Dec. 1986, 14
For eight American seminary students living with their families in Quito, Ecuador, Christmas is a special time of year. In an effort to give something of themselves at this time of the year, they decided to share Christmas with an orphanage in the northern city of Latacunga.
The first efforts began in making gifts for the 70 children, ranging in age from 10 days to 12 years. For the boys they made bean bag mice, and for the girls they made soft snow-women dolls. Trying his hand at running a sewing machine, Bryon Bowers said, “I felt needed making those presents.”
When the big day came, the students wrapped each gift and loaded a basket with extra goodies like formula for the babies, rice, school supplies, and candy canes for everyone. At the orphanage, the students sang Christmas carols, helped the children reenact the Christmas story, and introduced Santa. Lamont Loveland recalls, “It was a very good experience for me because I had to play the part of Santa. It was fun to see the children’s faces when I handed them their presents.” Cory Goodman adds, “I’ve been here before, but I’ve never seen the children so excited.”
The seminary students brought five piñatas filled with candy and set them up for the children to break. Brenda Reinhart observed, “Seeing the love and unselfishness these orphan children showed was a lesson to me. After the candy from the piñata was collected by the children, they looked around to see who hadn’t received any so they could share theirs.”
During the two-hour drive back to Quito that evening, Carrie Reinhart expressed a wish, “I want to spend my next birthday here sharing with these wonderful children.”
Paulette Kaudelka spoke of the yearning most of them had felt during the day. “When I left the orphanage, I wanted to take all those little children with me and give them a better life.” Penni Kaudelka and Clayton Bowers felt their testimonies grew with this opportunity to serve.
In summing up the feelings of the group, I can only say we were all touched by the love given and then returned tenfold that day.