The volunteer director was extremely sick when we arrived at OSSO, so we found ourselves in charge of a lot of things to pick up what she couldn’t do.  (Which we were happy to do…we wanted to be put to work any way we could.)  When we went to bed after midnight on Christmas Eve she told us she hoped we could make breakfast…hash browns, eggs and bacon for 45 to be served by 7:30.
We didn’t succeed in our task until about 8:00 or 8:30 but it got done and it was an adventure to work together in this unfamiliar kitchen trying to scavenge for the tools we needed to make it work.

I loved it.

Good way to switch up Christmas.

We got the table all set up and brought out as many kids as could eat solid foods to join in.

Even those who are tube fed were wheeled out to enjoy Christmas morning together.

Here are Dave and Lu coming down from the volunteer house:

…and a little glimpse of rooms where you can see a few of the snowflakes.

(Couldn’t take pictures of the kids but they were at a table behind this picture which was wheelchair accessible and some of us volunteers got to sit by them and help with whatever they needed).

This endeavor took a LOT of dishes I tell you!  And I had some good helpers to get it done.

Then it was time for the Christmas gifts.  See that window in the top middle below?

That’s where the kids were opening their gifts, mostly with the tia’s help.  The room was so jam-packed we just watched from the window. 

Most of the OSSO kids were not aware of Christmas and were unable to unwrap things, but there was such a happiness amidst the whole scene that hopefully they felt a little of the love.  And it was fun to see them wearing their new clothes and the excitement of the few who were so over-the-moon about super heroes and barbies and bubbles to be blown.

It was such a simple and unique Christmas morning.

After presents a big soccer game began.  Those kids LOVE being pushed around and a handful of them were so dang excited to have willing players to help.

Again, I can’t post pictures of that, but it was my favorite part of Christmas.

When we weren’t working with the kids, these kids got some pretty good games in:

…and the other moms and I got to accompany Sasha, the director at OSSO, to a couple of other orphanages in the same city to deliver the things we brought for them from the States.

There was a lot of mango eating (man alive those things are delicious).

Here are the other two families we were with who we adore:

These guys above live close to us and they are the best.  We loved being with them and learned so much from their goodness and grit.

And that last picture is of our neighbors…the ones who decided they better bring their oldest two and come with us and Max and Elle to India a few years back.  They have remained such dear friends ever since.

Julie, bless her heart, brought little bags of the sweetest gifts for all 12 kids we were with.  The kids thought it was the nicest thing that had ever happened to them…and they were right.  That is one good woman!

After we helped feed and brush teeth down at the orphanage we headed into town to find our own Christmas dinner.

I love walking the streets of new places…

…especially at Christmas where everything is all aglow.

It’s almost like my girls have a tractor beam that zips them right up to silver rings of any kind.

We ate dinner at an Indian place…the kids:

…and the adults:

(Not shown, the puddle of water we were wading through because of a water leak…)

Dave and I gathered our girls into our room when we got back to OSSO and had our own little Christmas devotional.

We gave them each one of these little stockings with a few pieces of candy and this scripture Dave and I had loved from “Light the World” before we left:
(Dave printed out those suckers and even mounted them on green construction paper before we left.  How’s that for being prepared?  He rocks.)
So grateful these girls were on board to have such an experience this year rather than getting more things.  And so grateful that their faces looked like that after a Christmas well-spent…one we will never forget. 

We sure missed that Maxwell of ours, but were pretty grateful that we got to have the six of us at that place, at that time, surrounded by so much goodness on every side.


  1. I think it says a lot about your family that you would sacrifice your own Christmas with your family, your dog and presents to travel and help others. It teaches your kids a good lesson about how life is not about what we receive but how we can give to others.

    1. Perhaps kindness could be your service for this coming year Tabby. Or choosing to read blogs that you enjoy rather than ones to belittle. Service comes in all shapes and forms, like politeness right here. I hope 2018 is a great year for you!

    2. Dear Tabby, kindness does not make someone a "fan girl," it is just a way of life that brings happiness. I leave most of your comments here because I just like to give you the benefit of the doubt and figure you're just having a rough day but I really do think you may be happier doing something other than scrutinizing someone's life you obviously don't agree with. It's totally ok to disagree, of course, and I love the discussions that come when a different viewpoint is expressed, but there are much more respectful ways to discuss. And to be honest, from your track record, I'm not sure that a discussion is really your intention. If you still feel you must read and must comment, I'll ask again, please maybe re-read your comments before you post and see if they're something you think builds or tears down. Life is too short to worry so much about what other people are doing…there's a whole world out there…go enjoy it!

      BearikaBallerina, I deleted your comment as well out of fairness but want you to know I so appreciate you sticking up for me.

    3. No worries, I completely understand! I just don't understand why someone would feel the need to come here for the sole purpose of tearing apart someone every single time they blog. Like, what does that accomplish? I just don't get it. I would almost understand if it was a blogger that posted controversial topics or a post on a site or something but to personally attack and the topic is family and family adventures and things like that…I'm just baffled. And I'm not a fan girl, just someone that likes and reads the blogs. I don't believe in the same things but I don't comment and tear it apart because what would that accomplish? I care about peoples' feelings. Why does it (I assume) make you feel good to post nasty things on someone's comments? Does posting hurtful things make you feel good? I'm not a fan girl. I'm just a dance teacher, security guard, mom that tries to spread happiness and not hate.

    4. Oof. If that's your takeaway from this post, I hope you have a better day today.

      I'm a fan of Shawni's blog. I don't share her religious beliefs or have such a large family. I'm not very outdoorsy, and I have a career outside the home. So, obviously, I don't think all Shawni's life details are for me. But, I like her positivity. It's nice seeing an approach towards humanity with goals so similar to my own, but so very different in execution. I find it interesting and uplifting.

    5. This. All of this. (Are we the same person?) Same to all of it. haha I work outside but other than that or swimming in our pool, I'm always inside because the sun is my enemy and nature doesn't like me. But that doesn't mean I don't like looking at it through her blog. And she is such a good human. It's hard not to like the blog.

      I'm atheist but my family is mostly Mormon (I'm the black sheep)so while it's not for me, I know that most Mormons (at least the ones I know) try to be good people and do good for others.

  2. i a the mother of a 20 year old disabled "man." because his cognitive skills are that of a toddler i can see where shawni is coming from and i am not offended in any way. please folks…be kind with your comments. shwani shares her heart and soul with us strangers and i am appalled at the insensitive comments.

  3. I love the service you and your family give. I am saddened to hear the critical and rude comments–and super impressed that you do not allow those to stop you from sharing your light with the rest of us who appreciate you so much!
    There is something special about that last family photo. Love it!

  4. Thank you for sharing this experience and your stories with me. I check your blog everyday because you’re a light spot in my life and encourage me to be more of who I’m trying to be. Thank you! Happy New Year!

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