A Christmas Miracle–Right Here in Loudoun County
by Cheryl Krichbaum
When God wants something done, it gets done!
Here is a true story of a Christmas miracle that happened right here in Loudoun County through MBC Loudoun’s Gifts of Joy. (Many of the names below have been changed for privacy.)
Once upon a time not too long ago (November 2015), in the village of Leesburg was a young girl named Emma who really wanted an American Girl Doll. What better way to feel like an American than to have an American Girl Doll?
But, her parents were poor. They lived in a trailer park. They didn’t speak English. And some of her family were still in Central America.
In the meantime in another part of Leesburg, a mom named Susan saw a deal on TV for an American Girl Doll. She bought it for her daughter who is about the same age as Emma. The doll was adorable! She came dressed in pink. She had a beautiful hat and a sweet nightgown for bedtime.
Only the daughter didn’t want the doll. “Thanks, Mom, but I don’t really like dolls.”
The doll laid in her box, waiting.
But God had a plan.
It was Christmas season, and I was having a conversation with friends on Facebook about opportunities to give that would involve our kids. Susan and another friend, Grace, asked, too. I told all of them about Gifts of Joy, which is McLean Bible Church’s version of Angel Tree but for under-privileged kids identified through our partnerships with Loudoun County schools, explained how it worked, and even provided the link to the web page.
Marie, my friend who goes to church at the Loudoun campus, liked the idea of participating in Gifts of Joy, but Susan and Grace did not get involved. Perhaps it was a little uncomfortable to go to a new church to pick up a gift request.
Weeks later when all the gifts were turned in, I asked Outreach Pastor Dave Kroeze if all the gifts were purchased. “I still have a few requests to fill,” he said.
I told Dave that I’d check with my friends on Facebook to see if they’d like to shop for kids at the last minute.
Grace said yes. Susan said that she had found another opportunity to give. But then Susan sent me a private message asking if I knew anyone who wanted an American Girl Doll.
Wow! Well, I didn’t know but offered to take the doll for a future giving opportunity. I thought perhaps the church could give the doll to a homeless girl for her birthday.
At the office the next day, Dave gave me two gift requests for Grace and then started walking away saying, “Now to figure out how to get an American Girl Doll.”
“I have one for you!”
I sent a message to Susan to confirm. Yes! She wanted to donate that doll, saying “I knew I shouldn’t sell it!”
That night I stopped by Susan’s house to get the doll. Her daughter was at the door. She was shy, but I could tell that she was excited about giving the doll.
She didn’t want to talk, so Susan explained: “She wanted to give the girl all her money.”
Cue the tears!
“Oh, how sweet!” I gave her a half hug–after all, we had just met! Then I showed Susan’s daughter the two dove tags with the gift request on one and gave her the other–the ornament–to keep. I told her that the ornament was so that she would remember the girl and be reminded to pray for her.
So, you would think that this story is over. But, no, God wasn’t finished.
Dave, his wife Meredith, and Lori (our MBC Loudoun Campus Administrator) decided to buy outfits for the American Girl Doll, a matching outfit for Emma to wear, and the puppy that is the doll’s companion.
Dave’s mom, who lives in Chicago, found out about this story, and she bought a picnic set for the doll.
Dave’s brother, who lives in California, found out about this story, and he bought outfits for the doll.
Delivery day came. Claudia Rabe, our wonderfully dedicated volunteer at Embrace Catoctin, went with Dave and me to translate. Claudia is so good about making sure each family knows about the resources available at Catoctin Elementary. They call her “the church lady,” and I try not to think of Dana Carvey on Saturday Night Live. If you know Claudia, you know she is not uptight at all! And everyone at Catoctin loves her.
We went during the school day so that Emma wouldn’t know. It was a privilege to go along. It was a privilege to be involved at all. I didn’t buy the doll. I didn’t buy any outfits. I just “connected the dots.”
I drove into the trailer park, remembering what it was like to live in a trailer. But the trailer park I lived in wasn’t so packed. So many homes, so close together.
I was 10 when we moved out of the trailer park. I don’t think I had been in a trailer since. Everything seemed so small. I was actually a little envious, thinking about how little time I would have to spend cleaning if I lived in a smaller home.
Then I felt guilty–what I have is never good enough, is it? I changed my attitude. God has provided for me, and I am grateful.
Emma’s mom was quietly excited. Through Claudia, we found out that Emma’s parents had explained that they couldn’t afford the doll. Emma said, “Okay, I’ll just have to wait.”
We also found out that Emma’s birthday is in January, and she was hoping that by then she could get an American Girl Doll.
Wouldn’t she be surprised?
Dave said, “Well, the dog that goes with the doll hasn’t arrived, yet, so I’ll wrap it up, and you can give it to her for her birthday.”
I remember Christmas in our trailer. I can only imagine, though, to be new to the United States. To be learning a new language. To want to fit in. To know that your family is too poor to get you what you really want.
I wonder what it was like to see her open that gift.
But God knows. He did His Christmas miracle. And someday when I’m in heaven, I’m sure he’ll show me the movie reel.
It’s a privilege, Lord. Thank You for using me. I can only wonder what seeds You planted this Christmas day.
And I continue to pray for Emma as well as for Susan’s daughter. Will you join me?
Do you have a Christmas miracle story? Share it in the comments below.