In February 2010, an earthquake and tsunami struck Constitución, Chile. The next Christmas, some friends and I planned to take boxes of aid to the many families who were still living in makeshift camps ten months later. Margarita, one of the volunteers, had taken up a collection of Christmas decorations in her office building, so we included a few of those in each box, along with a copy of the Christmas issue of Conéctate (the Spanish edition of Activated) and a CD of Christmas music. One person in Margarita’s office had donated a Christmas tree, which we also took with us, even though we didn’t know exactly what we would do with it.

While a few of us gathered all the children for a live Christmas show of songs and skits, another team fanned out to visit the various cabins that made up the camp. At one home, two volunteers found a woman near tears. Her family had lost almost everything in the tsunami, and a recent robbery had taken the rest. She said her little boy had been watching other families put up Christmas trees, and he kept asking when she was going to get one for them. It was all he talked about.

The volunteers told her they would see what they could do, and scrambled back to our van so excited that an onlooker would have guessed they held a winning lottery ticket. “We found the perfect family for that Christmas tree!” they exclaimed.

They rushed back with the tree, and soon had it up and decorated in the one-room shack. The woman watched with joy as her son’s wish came true.

The little boy and his sister returned from the Christmas program, and their mother had them close their eyes before leading them inside. When the little boy opened his eyes and let out a shriek of delight, we knew God had led us to the right family.

Months later, another volunteer was at the same camp when a woman explained how at one point, she had been so discouraged that she felt she couldn’t go on. But then some people showed up at her door, out of nowhere, with the Christmas tree her son had wanted so badly. And that was the day she had decided not to give up.