It was Christmas morning 2000 and the apartment was quickly filling with people. There were gifts under the tree, two sweet toddler cherubs waiting for the big event, tummy tickling aromas coming from the oven, snow picturesquely falling in a gentle haze. All was as it should be. And, I? I was half submerged in the large silver trash dumpster in the parking lot of our large apartment complex.
Earlier that summer, Jay’s Uncle Norm and Aunt Eleanor had given us a bread machine. Thrilled with the new innovation, we had juggled babies and car seats and diaper bags and one large bread machine through the airport. Twenty-one hours of labor to make bread the easy way in our home.
The days before Christmas that year had been a constant whirlwind of people in and out of the apartment. We served a lot of bread that holiday. And on Christmas Eve, we did a quick clean-up of the kitchen for a tidy cooking area on Christmas Day. A lot more guests were expected.
With my Christmas morning coffee in hand to chase away the night fog, I suddenly had a sinking suspicion that was quickly confirmed: An essential piece of the bread machine mixer component had remained lodged in the crust of the newest loaf of bread. A crust that had been efficiently swept away the night before and deposited in the trash.
That is how Christmas morning 2000 found me; in my old green parka, halfway into a rubbish bin that could easily hide a dead body, sifting through the Christmas Eve trash, searching for a bag of Sunberg rubbish that had the end of a loaf of bread with a metal item of very small proportions lodged in the crust.
And, a big stink was emanating from my attitude.
Until I sensed the presence of a person behind me. As I looked up from my dumpster dive, I found an elderly gentleman, obviously homeless, waiting patiently for me to finish my Christmas adventure through the apartment block trash, so that he could have his turn.
All sorts of thoughts go through one’s mind when the homeless man who sorts through your trash for treasure suddenly has a face. When he waits patiently for you to pick through diapers and cartons and cans and loaves of half eaten, homemade bread for his morning breakfast. When he gives you his hand to help you out and a toothless grin as a Christmas morning gift.
When faces have names, the story of a homeless baby born in Bethlehem becomes a richer gift.
Last week, as I listened to Dave and Betsy Scott tell about the Charity Shop in Zagreb, Croatia called Qanah, they spoke of a community that has begun to share life together. They spoke of the people in the Zagreb neighborhood who were once just meaningless objects in a landscape but now, through the ministry of Qanah, have become people with stories and needs and gifts to give. When people have faces … well, you think about that for a minute. Finish the thought: When people have faces …
Over the next week, we will be featuring a story from each of the 11 countries on the Central Europe Field. Follow us by clicking the ‘Follow Us’ button at the top of the page.