Monday, January 3, 2011

Spreading Christmas

Last year on Christmas Eve we decided to give cash to unsuspecting Romanians who appeared to us as needy. Our only rule was that the receivers could not be beggars. Our beneficiaries would be ordinary people we came upon while walking down the streets of our neighborhood. The unbelieving smiles and thanks we got warmed our hearts.

This year, we wanted to expand our giving so we came up with a brilliant idea. We would buy the meager goods from one street vendor and give to other people we met who looked like they could use some Christmas cheer. I snapped pictures along the way.

The Romanian elderly have been hit hard by the economy and, in a recent decision by the government, their pensions were cut by 25%. Many have taken to the streets, selling fruits and vegetables they raise themselves. This little man stood by his meager bag of apples, hoping someone would buy one or two.

Elder Linerud asked him to put some apples in the bag we provided and then the little man would look up to get the sign to stop. Elder Linerud motioned for all of them!

You can feel his delight!

The little scale said we owed 12 lei--$4. Elder Linerud tipped him another 10 lei.

He shook Denny's hand and kissed mine and said "Multimesc!" (I thank you!) about ten times!
He then gathered up his empty bag and went home for Christmas.

Onward. We found this man, gathering "things" from the street. He was dumbfounded that he would get something from a stranger.

We gave three or four apples at a time and everyone returned our gift with a smile.

These people are waiting for a handout from the other people who are waiting in line to buy pastries. As the "rich" people exit the pastry shop, the "poor" ask for some of their goods. This is a common sight at the doors of a grocery store, as well. As you can see, Elder Linerud was very popular! We hope the people in line took note and reacted with some "giving" of their own. We are trying to be good examples in a dog-eat-dog culture. There are generous Romanians but too few of them.

This man is our neighborhood schizophrenic. We have named him "Skirt Man" as he always dresses like this, carrying a purse and a doll. He appreciated the apples.

When the apples were gone, we did the same thing with a load of carrots. We had a blast!

This "look" made our Christmas giving complete.

Next year on Christmas Eve, our challenge is to come up with something as meaningful to do for the down-hearted people of Spokane. Our mission has changed us and we will not be found buying last-minute Christmas gifts!


  1. Love your last two posts! You are a great example for all of us! When I grow up I want to be just like you!

  2. Oh my gosh, that is too cute! I almost cried when I saw the old man selling the apples and the joy on his face. Well done!

  3. So cool! That double-giving idea was genious. As I read your post, I had ideas for Primary sharing times swimming through my head. Love you!

  4. Elder and Sister Linerud,
    I love to read your blog. I came across your blog couple of months ago. One of my friends (Viktor Vekony) is serving in your mission field. I am also from Hungary, but living in Latvia. You are such a great example. I am looking forward to serve one day with my husband as a senior couple. We wish you Happy New Year! Noemi

  5. Pure genious indeed! Thanks for the great examples you are setting for the rest of us.