Hurricane Sandy has come and gone with no effect on my immediate area except enough rain to keep me from running all week. So many in our Mid-Atlantic region, though, have not fared so well and we continue to pray for them as they trust God to meet all their needs.
For me, today was a day for looking back; a day for returning to the elemental reason I got involved with Operation Christmas Child in 1995; a day to remember the joy of packing a box and knowing it will go into the hands of a child half a world away and bring him or her joy.
My OCC Church Relations Coordinator, Heather Rogers, was the first person to join our area team when it formed in 2007. Even before that we had been packing shoeboxes together for years.
Today we teamed up again to pack boxes in the Wesley Church basement the way we used to do before we started having large packing parties. One by one we chose the right items to fit each box--carefully matching the size of the stuffed animal or clothing item so that each box was well-filled but not overly full.
And while we worked we talked. She encouraged me and gave me perspective on some of the problems that have plagued me recently. The routine work was both mundane and marvelous.
Better yet, we had a private concert by the Wesley Praise Band who were rehearsing in the sanctuary above us. "10,000 Reasons/Bless the Lord" and several of my other favorite songs blessed me in new ways.
I was overwhelmed with emotion as I remembered the encouragement of our former pastor, David Streets, who always got excited about Operation Christmas Child and once asked, "I wonder how many shoeboxes it would take to fill the whole church?" As tears came to my eyes, I told Heather, "I don't think we would have had this team or kept packing thousands more boxes if it hadn't been for David Streets."
I remember 2008--the last year we packed all our boxes at Wesley Church--when we had 7,272 boxes stacked all over the church. They were in pretty much every spare space we could find on two floors of the building and you know what?--no one complained about it. Instead, people were excited.
Carrying the boxes up and down the stairs (what we've always called a shoebox workout) made us hungry enough to go to Wendy's for lunch--another thing we used to do back in those days when we packed 100 boxes or more nearly every week all year long.
This day was a joy and a balm to my soul. Something to remember.
On the other hand, if all we did was pack boxes like this we wouldn't be able to bless as many children as we can bless by involving the community in a large packing party. That's something to remember, too.