Sunday, September 25, 2011


Blogs are supposed to be short but I may fail at that rule as I post about our Operation Christmas Child packing party yesterday here in Erie, PA. After a few hours of sleep I was ready to leave for the church at 6:30 am when I got a message telling me the man who was going to run sound for us was ill. I was already in prayer mode so I told God I was waiting on His plan.

Got to church at 7:00 to get the chance to fill with helium some of those balloons I've been moving from place to place at my house. A few balloon bunches really dressed up the space and while working to place them in the worship center, we were blessed to have someone who knows how to run the sound board 'just walk in' as an answer to prayer. When he turned on the sound, guess what was playing? "Bless the Lord oh my soul." Not an accident in my book.

Don't you just love looking at these cartons all lined up like cubbies waiting to be filled with boxes. I prayed over them and asked God to let our volunteers fit 23 into each of them so we'd have room on the truck

Then when enough volunteers arrived we head out together and marched the 7th lap around the building of our symbolic Jericho march and claimed God's victory over the day. Before long volunteer training was underway and we enjoyed Chick-fil-A breakfast.

We finished the looping Operation Christmas Child videos in the worship center and then started the day together at 9:10. After explaining OCC and showing a hilarious 'silent movie' version training video we assigned jobs to volunteers and then got the packing line moving shortly before 9:30.

Looking at this hallway of boxes waiting to be filled reminds me of the children who are waiting to receive them. I was a bit concerned about not having enough volunteers in the beginning but they drifted in through the morning and the lines kept moving. Even though we were behind last year's times, I realized that God was gracious in allowing us time for volunteers to learn to get the cartons filled without being pressured with too many boxes at once.

Almost every room of the church was being used--one for bagging crayons, one for stapling paper, two for folding boxes and labeling. And the neat thing is that ministry was happening in each of those areas. People were connecting and loving on each other. It was beautiful to see.

We'd only packed 4800 boxes by 11:30 when we moved everyone to the worship center to hear Oxana Moore speak.

Oxana received a shoebox as a child in Belarus and her story of what that box meant to her helped everyone to see how God uses each of these simple gifts to bring hope and love.

A TV crew and the Chick-fil-A cow came at the lunch break
but people didn't take much time to gobble down pizza and quickly went back to work. We hit the halfway point at around 1:00 and I began to think we wouldn't have enough fillers to finish the day. I thought maybe we'd only make it to 10,000 boxes. So I made my second visit to the prayer room that day and fell on my face on the floor before God--reminding Him that this was His idea and if He wanted us to get to 15,000 boxes, well, it was up to Him.

Things started moving faster as more people stepped up to fold boxes at a feverish pace. I hid out on the stage folding boxes for quite some time and made stops to bag crayons and count paper also--so happy to be out of the flow of questions--while my team handled the action.

While I'd been afraid of running out of items a few hours before, now the piles didn't seem to diminish as carton after carton was filled. Just before 4:00 we hit the 15,000 mark and at 4:06 the 53 ft. trailer (the one that was dropped in the middle of the night) was declared officially filled with 670 cartons.

Still the packing continued. We were supposed to have received 16,000 boxes but somehow we filled 16,145 white GO boxes and we'd hardly touched the 2-4 boys or girls clothing and filler supplies. Enough items remained for hundreds more boxes but we had no boxes left to fill.

God, you did it again! After a prayer over the boxes and a teary singing of the Doxology
most of the volunteers trickled out while the faithful core remained for the massive clean-up.

Having so much left over meant storing it all back in the container along with the 32 extra cartons filled with boxes. I left at 6:00 before the clean-up was over (heard they finished about 6:30) to drive to Saegertown for an OCC kick-off meeting with Oxana Moore speaking.

Another week and another day filled with more miracles than I could ever anticipate. And today I've been getting reports all day already of ways people on THIS side of the box were blessed by yesterday's packing party. God never wastes anything.

I sat in church dreaming of how we could have another packing party--maybe with clients from the City Mission or a local residential center for troubled youth. Someone will be blessed by packing the rest of this stuff into boxes.

Now we just need to get the truck pulled and the miracles are on their way. It's time for them to GO!

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