Saturday, March 5, 2011


December 21, 2010

The annual Angel Tree Christmas party at Carmel Presbyterian Church last week celebrated the kickoff of our yearlong personal relationship with our beleaguered neighbors in Seaside, Marina, PG, Monterey, and Carmel whose families has been caught up in the justice system

At the initiative of the “confined” parent, Chuck Colson’s Prison Fellowship forwarded us a list of local families so affected. We were able to match each of these Angel Tree families with individuals and small groups from our and local churches to commemorate the birth of our Savior and redeemer, Jesus Christ. In a program of fellowship, prayer, song, stories, dining, culminating with a visit from Santa laden down with needed clothing, bare necessities, toys, games, and electronics for the teen technocrats

Taking a cue from last year, the present crop of Angel Tree families may look forward to monthly house calls from families bearing cheesy pizzas,, excursions to the Monterey Aquarium, walks along the seaside, picnics at the beach, shopping at the Yellow Brick Road, pocketing of bus tokens, assistance with repair of appliances and autos, birthday gifts, greeting cards, phone calls of encouragement, visits to Burger King, home cooking as our honored guests, fuel for work, chauffeuring, respite care, and objects of our discipleship with, invitations to accompany us to Saturday Mens fellowship, Women in the Word, Sunday services, and participation in our children and youth groups

TESTIMONIALS (Well worth the tears)

David caught our introductory phone call while running errands. True to his word, he called right back on parking his truck. Yes, yes, he had been waiting for a call such as this. On the “internment” of his sister, without a second thought, he assumed care of her 3 children to blend with his own three. Having been through the system himself in his youth, David knew how critical to get the children to church, a youth group, and Christian fellowship.

In follow- up calls, David was joyfully beside himself, impatiently awaiting our Angel Tree Christmas party and the start of something special for his enlarging brood

On arrival of our king-sized Monarch Bus, David was impressive to spot, he was replete with Sunday suit, shirt, tie, and all, so very ready to greet the Lord’s day


Yahanoe and Ahnaya came to the party last year with grandma. She had been raising the two in mom’s absence. Ralph and Gail, their sponsors, had been keeping in touch throughout the year, generously feting them on their birthdays. All were looking forward to their reunion this Christmas

Unfortunately life has it twists. Precious grandma suddenly died. Nowhere were we able to locate the children’s current whereabouts. That is, until Ralph had the bright idea of checking out last year’s school. Bingo, a connection, just 3 weeks before our Christmas gala

Happily mom had recently “come out” and the family, now together, moved to Salinas. But, the demons weren’t about to let good news prevail; things were about to again scramble

Follow-up reminder calls were greeted with disconnected phone messages. Rumor had it that the family had moved back to Seaside. Total despair; so close but yet so far

It was then that God’s will prevailed, for out of nowhere Ahnaya’s cell phone number appeared and on calling, she intuitively remembered me, and was thrilled to learn we hadn’t given up on them

She pledged the whole family would be there at the Boys and Girls Club awaiting the bit bus at 2 PM, December 11th some 5 days hence. Amazingly, in that narrow window of time could you believe the family had moved again – now to Sacramento? So we were to miss them at the party

The following day, in resignation, while dropping the gifts at Auntie’s house I was to receive another surprise, only this time, something nice. Mom was due back in town that very afternoon to clear out the last of their belongings. And that very night I received the loveliest of calls from her, blessing Ralph and Gail for staying the course with them and once again blessing Yahanoe and Ahnaya with still another memorable Christmas. She ended the conversation with wishes they might meet again somehow, somewhere, sometime but soon

Surely, working with this family has been a lesson to the resiliency of Godly families in confronting trials and tribulations when once snagged in the justice system, but still emerging OK


The party must not be over. One young woman called yesterday asking if she’s too late for help with Christmas. Earlier in the day, while standing in line at the grocers, bemoaning prospects of a lean Christmas, she was overheard. The eavesdropper promptly provided her with our home number. She never got a chance to thank the good Samaritan for the latter disappeared in the blink of an eye

She’s 20 and has a 9 month old boy. And with Christmas just around the corner, she had made a number of calls to service agencies only to be told they too were having a hard time this year

Lecretia grew up under Grandma’s watchful eye. Mom had been killed before Lecretia was walking, and dad took off soon thereafter. Lacretia too, will soon be moving on, for Grandmother recently died, and Grandpa, with his wife gone, isn’t able to adapt to rug rats. Lecretia comes across as a survivor, asking only for warm clothing for her son, confessing that he has found all the toys he needs. He’s content to bang away on pots and pans.


It’s been a good start. Parties and gifts do bring cheer and comfort, and we did have a fine neighborhood communion of brothers and sisters in the name of Christ. Now the work begins

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16)

Angel Tree provides an opportunity to disciple the Good News right here in our backyard

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matt22:36-40)

It is our calling to reach out to our neighbors without there being a time limit. These Angel Tree families braved coming to our Church in trust. They came to believe we wished to partner with them in some form as extended family. How rewarding the opportunity to be in relation with them throughout the year in love

“"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me

For The Least Of Us
Bill and Pam Ziering
26033 Mesa Drive,Carmel, CA 93923

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