Perhaps the story of Mennonite Central Committee Christmas bundles is not familiar to you? Here’s some background on bundles of blessings. In many Mennonite churches, these projects jog memories of the holiday season and an outreach to children in countries around the globe. Since at least the 1940s, families were encouraged to collect simple clothing, a bar of soap, comb, toothbrush, and a small toy or personal item. These were all wrapped in a bath towel, secured by large safety pins, and then delivered to Akron, PA. Topped with a note indicating clothing sizes for a boy or girl, including the name and address of the sender added a personal touch. Often put together by children, these bundles provided assurance that someone cared enough to remember a struggling family in Europe after WW II, or countries such as Korea, Vietnam, Jordan, South America, and more recently inner cities in the U.S. There are touching stories of friendships established through this sharing of gifts at Christmas.
One particularly serendipitous saga involves two long-time members of First Mennonite.
In 1949, Tina Neufeld, a young widow in Paraguay, received two Christmas bundles, one shared for her two little girls and one for her two boys. Filled with gratitude, she wrote a kind thank you note to the young Priscilla Selzer of Protection, Kansas, who had assembled the bundle, and wished her God’s blessings. Translated from German by Priscilla’s grandfather, the treasured letter was tucked in a scrapbook for safe keeping.
In the late 1950s, Erwin Boschmann traveled from Asunción, Paraguay, to study at Bethel College, where he met and married Priscilla Selzer, then a young schoolteacher. In a visit with her family, years later, Erv noticed a letter, written in German with a familiar signature in an old scrapbook. They were all astonished to realize that the Christmas bundles from long ago had found their way to Erv’s aunt!
Eventually, during a family visit in Paraguay, Mrs. Neufeld had the chance to meet Priscilla and share her appreciation in person. Everyone was able to reflect on the unexpected blessings to their family reaching back many years through unknown connections. To God be the Glory.
About the author
Writing this article about Christmas bundles, took me back to my childhood and the excitement of carrying a towel-wrapped bundle to the front of the church to be sent off to someone needing the simple items packed inside. This winter finds us hiking, biking and enjoying time in Phoenix with family. Dubbed the “curly girls” this trio includes our daughter Leah and granddaughter Sofia Hershberger.