When Caroline went to her Christmas Love Pak party last year, she didn’t know her life was about to change forever. All she was thinking about was getting out of the house for a few hours.
At the time, Caroline was just 15, and she was deeply depressed. Which was no surprise, given all she was dealing with at home. Her beloved mother had passed away a few years ago, and Caroline was still grieving.
When her mom died, Caroline had to take on a lot of extra responsibility. She is now the sole care-giver for her sick auntie. They can’t afford a good doctor, so they’re not sure exactly what’s wrong. All Caroline knows is that her aunt is too weak to walk. Caroline has to help her with everything – she cooks her meals, cleans the house, even helps her aunt outside to the toilet. Can you imagine? And they only have a pit in the ground – Caroline has to help her aunt crouch down over the pit, and then pull her back up. Good thing Caroline is strong for her age!
Caroline’s father is no help. Most of the time he is too drunk to even be aware of what’s happening around him. The rest of the time, he just expects Caroline to cook and clean for him too.
On top of all this, Caroline was trying to keep up with her schoolwork. She was preparing for the vital exam that would determine which high school she could go to. In Kenya, that one exam can determine your whole future, so she was dealing with a lot of pressure.
With everything that was going on, Caroline felt stuck. She felt like her life would never get better – it would be an endless round of taking care of other people. She was sure she wouldn’t get into high school, and would have to live out her days in the hut with her sick aunt and her alcoholic father.
The thing is, Caroline loves helping people! She loves cooking – one of her favorite things is to go to her friends’ houses and help them cook, especially if they have company coming and need a “fancy” meal. Her favorite subject in school is Biology, and she dreams of being a nurse when she grows up. Caroline wants to give back to society by helping people heal. But the grinding pressure of her daily life was so intense, that it started to break Caroline. Even doing something she loved – like cooking – became an overwhelming chore.
So, when Caroline showed up at her Love Pak party about a year ago, it’s no wonder she was depressed.
As she sat with the other children during the nativity skit, it was clear she was struggling. Thankfully, Agnes, one of our staff members, noticed. While the other kids were enjoying some games, Agnes beckoned Caroline to come outside with her. They found a corner to sit, and slowly the whole story came out. Agnes listened carefully, offering both encouragement and consolation.
And then, Agnes explained that Jesus is our only true comfort. She explained that the nativity skit Caroline had just seen was real and that Jesus came to Earth because He loves Caroline unconditionally. He will always be there for her, even in the middle of her toughest day. After a long conversation and some deep soul searching, Caroline decided she wanted the same assurance that Agnes was talking about. That day, Caroline gave her life to Jesus!
And that’s why Love Pak time is our favorite time of the year! It’s not because of the presents (although those are pretty great!) It’s because Love Pak parties are one of our best opportunities to share the Gospel – the best present of all - with kids like Caroline.
Caroline’s life is still hard. Her aunt is still sick. Her father is still an alcoholic. But Caroline herself is transformed! Instead of depression, her heart is filled with Jesus’ love. She’s joined the Christian Union at her school (yes! She did get into a great high school), and is always looking for opportunities to tell people about the difference Jesus has made in her life.
Annette, from our office here in Bellingham, interviewed Caroline in person for this story. At the beginning of the interview, Annette asked Caroline if she’d ever made popcorn before, leading to a detailed discussion about how Caroline pulls that off in her little hut. At the end of their time together, Annette told Caroline how excited she was that she’d accepted Jesus as her Savoir. And told her that even if they never saw each other again on Earth, they’d see each other in heaven, and Annette would say:
"Hey Caroline! Remember when we stood together in that cornfield and you told me how you made popcorn in your hut?”
Caroline threw her head back, laughed and said,
"Yeah, that will be great!"
It will be great, Caroline! We’re so glad you went to your Love Pak party last year, and found the best gift of all: Jesus Christ.
Childcare Worldwide is grateful to partner with generous people all over the world to build a better life for kids in need. If you’re interested in sharing the love of Jesus with kids like Caroline through Christmas Love Paks, click here.