I woke up early the morning of Christmas eve to a thick sleepy fog, and a blanket of white snow on the ground. I went outside where it was silent, and peaceful; and when I looked at the fence around the the compound I thought, “This silly fence can’t separate me from my family. My heart is in Highland!” I love the Christmas season, and wish I could capture the tenderness I feel right now all year round. My roommate Sonia planned a special Christmas eve dinner, and spent the day putting different ingredients together from commissary to make the perfect meal. We have a new roommate now, and her name is Iris.  She speaks mostly Spanish so Sonia translates for her. Sonia has done an amazing job learning English and sometimes I think that she speaks better English than a lot of the woman here who have been speaking it their whole lives:) While Iris and Sonia were preparing dinner I noticed Iris would stop and silently weep from time to time and Sonia would walk over and give her a hug. I asked Sonia what was wrong with Iris, and she told me that she really misses her family. She said: ” This is Iris’s first Christmas away from her family, and her daughter just had a baby. She is very sad.  I don’t speak Spanish, but I gave Iris a hug, and told her that I love her. I too have had moments of great heartache, and know how deep that pain can be. When Sonia asked me to say a prayer before our meal I asked our Father in Heaven for a special blessing of peace. I said, “Father in Heaven, we come before thee as sisters united in prayer on this special Christmas eve, and desire to feel of your presence. We ask for a special blessing of comfort to be with Iris, and pray that we might all feel of your peace. Please give our families the love we have in our hearts, and help them feel our presence this Christmas season even though we are not with them. We are grateful for the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ, and thank the for the healing that takes place in our lives because of Him.”  After the prayer I felt the peace I asked for, and later Iris came up to me and said, “Ms. Portia, Your face is white! You have a pretty complexion because you are good inside.” I thanked her, and thanked my Father in Heaven for the love we all felt. The next day Chad told me they felt my influence at home even though I’m far away.

CJ wrote a letter to Santa a while back, and Chad sent it to me
It said:
Dear Santa, what I want for Christmas is an Iphone 7 or 6 or 5, and the most important what I want in the whole world is my mom. I really miss her, please can you try to make her come home?

PS. You don’t have to give me this but I also want a beautiful diamond, and it doesn’t have to be real. Just make it out of glass and beautiful. And if you can’t get me any of these things maybe you could get me a stuffed animal? Or If not you could just surprise me.

PSS What do you want for Christmas Santa?
Could you please write me back?
Love, CJ

I decided to get in touch with Santa, and together we made sure He got a letter under the tree for CJ on Christmas morning. The letter said:
Dear CJ,
When I got your letter I new you were not an ordinary little girl. Every child is unique, but I could see you were extra special. So I decided to take a closer look at how this year has been going for you. In your letter you told me you really want your Mom to come home more than anything else. Sometimes it’s hard to be Santa Clause because I want to give good children everything they want. But I can’t do that! I know you know that you have a Father in Heaven who loves you, and who is mindful of the things you want too. Your Father in Heaven has a really important plan for you and your family, and sometimes going though hard things is part of the plan. Even though your mom is gone for a little while when she comes home I think your family will be happier than it’s ever been, and you and your mom will spend lots of time together doing fun things. I’ve watched over your mom too, and she misses you a lot, but she’s doing really good. She’s very proud of how well you are doing too. Going through hard things sometimes makes little girls stronger. I’ve watched lots of children go through hard things over the years, and the children that are the bravest when things are really hard always do the most important things in their lives. That’s one of the reasons I think you’re so special, because you have gone through hard things. I’m hoping your Father in Heaven will bring your mom home quickly this year. But for now I understand you will be visiting her soon, and that’s going to be a wonderful time for you and your mom. CJ, I want you to know that I’m so impressed with how well you’re doing in school, and how nice you are to other children. You make your family happy too, especially your dad! You are a special little girl, and I really wanted to give you all the things you asked for in your Christmas letter. This year I don’t have a lot of money to get toys, so I did the best I could. I have lots of children to get toys for, and some children get only one or two presents. But I got you what I could, and I hope you will like it. Please keep praying to your Father in Heaven; He hears your prayers, and will bless you. I better go now, I have lots of presents to get out tonight, but I will be watching over you this year. Have a Merry Christmas dear child
Love Santa Clause

When I called CJ on Christmas morning the first thing she told me was that Santa Clause had written her a letter. She said: “Mom, Santa watches over both of us! He sees you! He told me that in a letter. He told me you miss me a lot, but you’re doing really good!” CJ told me she got Santa a present, and asked me if I thought he got it. I told her I’m sure Santa got the present, but what I didn’t tell her was that her pure heart, and kind disposition is the greatest present a child could ever give! I found out recently that some neighbors from our local church made arrangement so my family can visit and they will be here in two weeks! We had the perfect Christmas, complete with a Christmas miracle. I love you all so much, and hope you had a wonderful Christmas! Thank you for following along:)