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2 children in different worlds find Christmastime connection

NEW ORLEANS (BP)–Four years ago, Lindsey Cawood wrote a letter. It was not complex; after all, she was only 6 years old. But she placed that letter in a shoebox she was creating for Operation Christmas Child while living in Cleveland, Tenn. That shoebox was sent to Amman, Jordan. It ended up in the hands of a 7-year-old girl named Haya. Haya wrote back.

“I was sort of surprised,” said Lindsey, now 10. “I didn’t think it would happen.” But what she didn’t think would ever happen has now continued over the last four years. “I like it when I get a letter. I like being able to read it and learn more about how she’s doing.”

Lindsey said she has learned about Jordan through corresponding with Haya. “I learned where it was, and how people live there. Whenever you see pictures of people in other countries, you see that they’re really not that different from us. It’s just they live in another country,” Lindsey said. “She plays piano and basketball. I don’t really play on a team, but I play basketball, and I play the piano.”

But basketball and piano aren’t the only things Lindsey and Haya have in common. Haya was baptized in the Jordan River and, like Lindsey, is a Christian.

“These folks are Christian,” said Lindsey’s father, Michael Cawood, a student at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. “It just really surprised us when we got this letter back from this little girl in the Middle East and it turns out that they were a Christian family,” he said, adding, “They sent us an Easter card.”

After the initial letter, Lindsey’s mother, Donna, wrote to Haya’s mother, Sahar. “I was a little worried when we started doing this because I didn’t know what kind of financial hardship it would bring. I don’t know what postage costs in other countries were,” Donna said. “[Sahar] wrote back that she was glad to open up Haya’s world to someone else, especially another Christian.”

Sahar wrote to Donna that Lindsey’s letter “means a lot to [Haya]. It has brought her joy in Christ.”

Learning that Haya and Sahar were Christians wasn’t the only surprise for the Cawoods; they also learned that while many of the children who receive shoeboxes are in desperate need, OCC reaches as many children as possible for the Lord.

“One thing that struck me is when we see pictures from Samaritan’s Purse we see a lot of children in orphanages or who are very poor, and just from what we’ve seen from the pictures and from talking to Haya and Sahar, they’re not destitute. They may have just happened to be there at a Christian spot and got a box,” Donna said. “That changes it a little bit, but it also makes us think that it doesn’t matter at what station in life you are, you still need to know Christ.”

This year, Lindsey penned another letter for her shoebox. She knows it will take a miracle for this child to be able to read and write English and return the letter, but that does not deter her. “I want them to know that Jesus is the Savior,” she said. “It’s important for them to know that so they can go to heaven.”

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  • Katherine Albers