Giving as a Way of Life

She lives life to the full. Everyone knows her as the chief administrator of Canaan. Sister Gladys gave our team the grand tour the first morning we were there. She walked us around to show us all—the clinics, the chapel, the future dining hall, the baby nursery and the school (where we got our first introduction to Canaan’s kids.) She didn’t say it directly but in her words, in her way, she welcomed us “home” to Canaan.

Under her authority, the team was released to fully embrace life in Haiti for the coming week.

My first impression of Sister Gladys was that of the consummate mother, her wings covering the community she leads with passion and devotion. And my impression was confirmed the more I watched her fulfill her purpose in this place. Her life speaks loudly---- lessons I need to learn.

Copyright: Cheryl Weaver 2011 used by permission
The first afternoon some of the older girls and the women on our team gathered in the dining hall to wrap gifts.

The wrappers held up paper squares-- scraps from the gift we had just wrapped--and called out to Gail, “What can you find that will fit in paper this size?”

Gail pulled toys from boxes piled near the door. Sifting through the jumble of offerings, she pulled stuffed animals, toy trucks, blocks and balls from the boxes. An hour or so into the wrapping party, we got word from Sister Gladys that she needed two hundred wrapped gifts. The gifts piled high on the counter. We hadn’t counted.

Copyright: Cheryl Weaver 2011 used by permission
We wrapped until the last paper rolls rolled down to nothing but cardboard tubes. We had no idea how many gifts were in the piles. We prayed for 200 and counted 217.

These gifts, collected by Canaan, were being to sent the fishing village of Petit-Goave, a town near the epicenter of the earthquake that devastated parts of Haiti on January 12, 2010.

A couple of days passed and the packages were bagged---  packed into the back of the truck. Sister Gladys’ passion for this mission heightened our desire to join her.  While the truck was being loaded for the long trip to Petit-Gaove, she pleaded with us to find more.

“We have a bag of clothes, nice ones, baby clothes, other sizes,” Jen offered.

“Put them in and look over there in the corner for books. Are there books in French?” (We were working in her office.)

We found a few books.

“Any crayons---- anything that you can find that will be a blessing?”

We handed a few more things out the door to be loaded into the truck. It was packed down.

And then I heard the heart behind Sister Gladys’ passion. It came straight from the mouth of Jesus. The words He spoke from the mountain:

"Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure-- pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return." (Luke 6:38)

Sister Gladys' conversational paraphrase of the famous verse from the Bible wasn't much different from the Scripture quoted above. More importantly, she believes these words are true. She didn't speak them because she wanted gifts. She spoke them because she walks the way Jesus taught.

Canaan was giving because they live by the commands and the promises of God. This was not desperation, or manipulation, this was faith lived out in purity of heart.

Canaan would bless the children of Petit-Goave, and God would give back. It is His way. No one among those packing that truck that day knows this more than Sister Gladys.

God is the Giver of gifts. “Every good thing, every perfect thing” comes from his hand.

No gift is ever to be held. When we try to hold what God’s gives, we miss the greatest blessing of all. God gives so that we have the blessing of giving out of His abundance. He pours in and we pour out---an outpouring of joy.

Copyright: Cheryl Weaver 2011 used by permission
We circled to pray over the gifts and those who would receive them. 

I was humbled when Sister Gladys asked me to voice the prayer. I thanked God for the hope sent tucked in books with the toys, the story of Jesus given as a gift at Christmas, for safety and protection for the long journey down the coast and back. I thanked for His provision so that Canaan could be a blessing.

Caroline and Rosa Mae drove away. 

Sister Gladys had released the gifts to the Lord’s will.  Then she was on to other pressing things. A “mother” of seventy plus has a few things on her plate. She lives life to the full.

I glance over to backpacks piled in the corner. Soon we would have the blessing of giving---Christmas gifts in backpack wrappings sent from our church family for the children of Canaan. Bags that held tennis shoes and deodorant, coloring books and baby dolls----and the promise of Jesus “pressed down, shaken together, running over.” 


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