18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about[d]: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 "The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" (which means "God with us").
24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
Our Family Christmas
The baby was born in a barn, but I had all the animals come to worship him in our Bethlehem scene.
Some of you have asked what Christmas in the USA is like compared with China. Since I have lots of pictures of our Christmas celebration this year posted on Pinterest, I thought I would share them with you and tell you something about our special traditions in our family. Christmas is a special holy holiday all over the world because it celebrates the birth of the son of the creator (see the verses above).
China does not have any official holy holidays, so even Christmas there makes no mention of the reason for the day. Here Santa Claus, reindeers, and snow are also featured along with wonderful Christmas songs and gifts to give. The merchants here and in China love to sell Christmas gifts. But there is a better reason for the season. It is a time to show love and joy to the world, because the one who will save us from death and our own evil has been born.
I went to a fellowship meeting on Christmas Eve to sing Christmas Carols and take a special rite with all the others there that night. The building was decorated with Christmas trees with holy symbols on them. The room was full of candles on each row of seats. At the end of the service we all lit candles and raised them high to sing the Christmas song
Whole families where there with their little children. Grandparents came as well as mothers and fathers. There were no empty seats in the place. The minister wore special clothes and did special things to remind us of the birth and death and coming to life again of the son of the creator.
At home we have a Christmas tree with silver and gold decorations, and I put up lights outside our house to welcome guests. We also send out Christmas cards to our friends and relatives. I send a family Christmas letter online to people who write me.
When I was a child on our family farm, we used to go out to the fields and cut down our own live Christmas tree to put in our house. It was always an adventure and an argument about which tree to select. Then when we got it inside, it was always too big since it looked smaller outside before we cut it.
I made pumpkin bread to give to my friends, but others give small gifts like Christmas decorations or gift cards. My husband gave me a lot of gift cards for McDonald's and other restaurants. That way we can enjoy a night out to eat together all year. My friends at the local Chinese restaurant also gave me gift cards to eat there. I will have plenty of meals after Christmas. Our son Matt gave us Chromebooks this Christmas. He came from California for Thanksgiving, so he did not come back for Christmas. He usually goes with his wife Cindy to his in-laws for Christmas
Our older son Ross and his wife Rachel brought our grandchildren for an early Christmas before going to Pennsylvania to their other grandparents' home. They got magnetic blocks from Uncle Matt and Aunt Cindy. The grandkids of course got toys, games, puzzles, and clothes. Josiah got a Spiderman scooter he could hardly put down.
Josiah shares his Spiderman Scooter
Ellie wanted help with her new puzzle. She is three years old and loves legos, cooking with Mom, and books.
Uncle Matt and Aunt Cindy gave them magnetic wooden blocks
Ellie works a puzzle
孙子孙女在装饰姜饼屋 The grandkids decorated this gingerbread house.
The most fun we had this year was decorating a gingerbread house with our grandchildren. They loved to lick the icing off their fingers. The house is held together with the sticky icing, and candy is also "glued" to the house with it. Unfortunately, the roof slid off over night. The kids thought maybe a mouse wanted to get inside, but we taught them about gravity.
I will come to China on January 6th for the Qinzhou tuition gathering of our high
school students. We are also planning a scholarship dinner on the 18th of January in Qinzhou. Any former or present college scholarship student is welcomed and should come to the lobby of the White Dolphin Hotel at 5:30 pm. We will walk together to a nearby restaurant.
From Yangshuo I will go to Nanning and then on to Kunming by plane to see our projects there. I plan to spend Chinese New Year in Guizhou with our Buyi minority students. The Anlong students will gather on Tuesday, February 4th at Anlong High School. Any Blessing Hands college scholarship students in that area can contact Mrs. Nancy Huang about her plans for that day. We also hope to see a water purifier installed at a primary school.
王岭学 Lin Wang School
I will be back in Nanning on February 7th and plan to go to the Du'an Yao minority schools before leaving for the USA on the 11th. During that time I hope to see my friends who have been visiting scholars at Morehead State University over the years.
Some of the students will be on holiday, but some at the primary school students live close enough to come to greet me and get school supplies. We will be supporting two more primary/kindergarten schools in the Du'an mountains for school supplies. I hope to see Wei Senbao and get pictures of him after his operation on his neck.
Blessing to all of you on these wonderful holidays both in China and the USA. They are times for family and good food. If you have a gift to give our kids before the end of the year, the Paypal donate button works in China or the USA. .
We could not do half of what we do without volunteers. Their love and big hearts make life easier for our kids and staff.
Last summer our team visited Lin Wang Primary School in Du'an County to give gifts and school supplies. Eddy Wu, on the left, came from Hong Kong to volunteer. On the right is Mr. Liu, who I traveled with to the Buyi minority area in Guizhou Province. These great volunteers were a blessing wherever they went.
These are just a few of the wonderful people who have helped us this year. You can see many more volunteers on our Pinterest.com page. Clicking the newsletter pictures will also take you to our Pinterest volunteer board.
Give a Child a Merry Christmas
Maybe you don't have the time to devote to helping our kids, but your gifts can do the work for you.
Sponsor a whole Yao primary school of 50+ children for $250 a semester. This gives them art supplies, snacks, and sports equipment.
Sponsor a primary student for $42 a semester.
Give a middle school child $75 in aid a semester. We have 20 new ones we have just begun to support.
Give $95 to pay the tuition of a high school student. We have many new students needing sponsors.
Blessing Hands is a 501(c)3 public charity and your gifts can be deducted from your US income taxes on April 16, 2013.
Get your tax deduction before the end of 2013.
Your business can also receive a tax deduction.
Be a Blessing Hand to many this Holiday Season.
A Volunteer With a Big Heart. Gayle Bourne is volunteering with Erting Pan and myself to help us to learn Quickbooks. She knows her financials and specializes in bookkeeping for nonprofits. I am so relieved to have someone who knows the answers to my accounting questions. She even came out in bad weather recently to help us. She helped me file our 990EZ this year. Gayle both provides administrative services and/or volunteers for several different organizations.
This is how she states her motivation. "I believe we have an obligation to God and to our community to use our talents to make the world a better place and serve those in need."
Tom Politowski, A Friend of Nonprofits
Tom helped us implement our Salesforce platform this year. He knows a lot about nonprofits and is expert in programming knowledge. He had the heart to get the job done on a deadline after it had been languishing for three years.
He never lost patience with my lack of computer expertise and followed through with everything he promised. He has indicated a willingness to continue to help us tweak the system as needed. Tom did all of this without charging our nonprofit. He is one in a million. May he always be blessed.
This is what Tim has to say about working with us.
"I met Betty at a conference where she came up to me and asked for help. I listened to her story about how Blessing Hands helps poor Chinese children have an opportunity for an education.
A few months later Betty and I connected and spent a weekend completing their system and loading in all the students and donor information. Betty was tireless in the mission to complete the task. We accomplished her goals, so she can communicate with all the students and sponsors easily.
Betty and the Blessing Hands team are dedicated to their mission and persistent in making a difference in the world. I'm happy to help."
Tom Politowski, CEO Nthropy, Inc.
A Wiz at Data Cleansing
Bernardo Lopez had the patience and expertise needed to help us get our data cleansed and ready to import into the Salesforce cloud platform that is free to nonprofits . When I was upset, discouraged and afraid that we would never get our data up and running correctly, he knew just what to say to calm me down. I am thankful for his kindness and ability.
He is from Ecuador and speaks Spanish and English fluently. He is a founding member of Engineers Without Borders (FIU chapter) and their treasurer. He works in New York as a Senior Analytics Consultant. His photo caught him eating a grilled scorpion in Beijing.
Deepak Subhedar was born and raised in Hyderabad, India. He attended Osmania University and later Mysore University before pursuing a software application development career. He moved to the US in 1996 and currently works for Glovia International Inc. - A Fujitsu Company. He lives in Eastvale, California with his wife Jyothi, and daughters Shivani and Sanika.
Through the magic of the cloud, he has made it possible for our student records to be available online for our administrators in China as well as for our US office. They can see the contacts and sponsors in a Chinese interface while we in the US can use English to view the same records. He has set up the framework for our data base.
"I discovered Blessing Hands while exploring volunteer opportunities for my daughter Shivani and landed up initiating implementation of a non-profit Salesforce.com CRM for Blessing Hands.
Blessing Hands, promoted by the Cutts family, is a small charity organization which is making a big impact on global society. It is not just giving scholarships but teaching philanthropy. By being the student recipient of a Blessing Hands scholarship, it is hoped that one day the students will become philanthropic themselves and "give back" when they are financially able".
East Oldham Middle School Water Purifier Team.
These volunteers from East Oldham Middle School spent two weeks in China last summer installing water purifiers. Left to right they are history teacher Joshua McCurdy, principal Jim Ross, physical education teacher Tim Kelly, and science teacher Dennis Mangum. They made a deep impression on the Chinese wherever they went. With their USA student's help, they raised enough money to pay for their trip and three water purifiers for Yangshuo, China primary schools.
The Best Volunteers of All - Our Blessing Hands Students
Our college students usually volunteer at least three hours a semester to help others. They do tutoring, visit older people, clean up the environment, gather things for poor people, and join volunteer clubs.
Best of all some of our students have volunteered to help other Blessing Hands students by giving up their scholarships when they no longer need them or by sponsoring students when they become wage earners themselves. Lan Liuxia was our only Yao minority college student when she wrote the letter below.
"I have a good news to tell you that I am a senior student now. We don't have many lessons, so I am mainly to find a proper job. Which means that I can make a living by myself soon, so I don't need to apply for a scholarship this year. I hope to leave this precious opportunity to other people who are in need of help.
Thank you very much for helping us over the past years . I hope I can do my best to help people who are in need of help in the future ,just like you .Now I am also preparing for the BEC exam, because I want to go to a foreign company to work. I will work harder and harder."
Our purpose is fulfilled when our students start to become Blessing Hands to others. Our adult volunteers are a great inspiration to the students. Everyone is learning it is better to give than receive.
At this season of joy and giving, I want to honor those who have given so much to our kids this year. So many more people have helped our students over our eight years of giving to Chinese students.
Merry Christmas to all you sponsors, volunteers, and donors. Our students and I are very thankful for you. I will end with this recent quote from one of our students, Qunhui Zeng.
"In my opinion, Blessing Hands is a warm-hearted charity. Without Blessing Hands, there would be more Chinese children who cannot finish their studies.
In the end, I would like to say, "Thank you" and " Merry Christmas" to you. "
Merry Christmas from the Cutts home . Betty Cutts, Founder and Director
I am a mother and housewife that loves China and children. The two interests
have come together in serving the children of China who need help with
educational needs. I started as a teacher in an English summer camp and got to
know the teachers first. When I toured their schools and met their precious
students, I could see many needs and decided to try to help. I first started a
fund to assist children with tuition, but it has expanded into a 501(c)(3)public
charity granting money for textbooks and school supplies for primary school and
lower middle school students and tuition for older students.