Saturday, October 26, 2013

Packin' In The Fun

Ahh, now is my time for oodles of Operation Christmas Child fun.  Our big packing party was on September 27th & 28th, followed two weeks later by my daughter's wedding followed by a week of company.

This past Tuesday we had our last OCC Area Team meeting before National Collection Week hits on November 18th and it was a blessing to pray and enjoy some time of fellowship together.

Sure, we have our Chick-fil-A event coming up and there's still a lot of work to be done to collect all those boxes and get them sent on their way.

But, really, I think this is the most FUN time ever.

Last evening I drove to Meadville, PA to attend a packing party being held in a store--a custom kitchen showroom called Tussey Mountain Kitchens.  Every room of this business was filled with items being readied to pack boxes this morning.

In the picture above you can see the guys who were busy using a drill to wind fishing line onto small pieces of fishing line to be included in the 50 fishing kits they made for 10-14 year old boy boxes.  Here's picture of the completed kits--

I can only imagine what a blessing they will be to the boys who receive them.

Upstairs in another room a group of women were busy assembling sewing kits for the girls.  Barb Kurtz, one of the organizers of the packing party, worked hard to sew small bags to hold these kits that will bless girls with all they need to repair or make clothing or other useful items.

The building was full of piles of treasures to bless children around the world.  I can't wait to hear how many boxes they filled this morning.

Meanwhile, our Mid-Atlantic Operation Christmas Child family was praying for other packing parties being held in our region this weekend and I'm eager to hear reports on those also.

Item by item and box by box God is bringing us nearer and nearer to that goal of 9.8 million boxes we're all praying to reach.

And along the way we're all just packin' in the fun!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Not Just Prayer

Family and work life has been in the way of my OCC life lately.  I haven't been as focused on our team ministry plan as I should be or want to be.  Since school began in August I've felt overwhelmed and ineffective as my goals for Operation Christmas Child kind of fell by the wayside.

This morning I was reading in I Chronicles and posted the following as my status on Facebook--

"...and all who were with them were given into their hand; for they cried out to God in the battle, and He answered their prayers because they trusted in Him."--1 Chronicles 5:20 --God has the victory ready for us if we just cry out to Him and trust Him. I miss that victory so many days because I don't intentionally seek it out.

I was reminded of that tonight as I watched 30 people listen with rapt attention to Pastor Pablo Mora, the National OCC Discipleship Coordinator for the country of Paraguay.    

One of our team goals this year was to organize an OCC event in each of the three counties in our area.  But as personal pressures closed in, it seemed that goal wouldn't be achieved.  

Then a few weeks ago one of our team members who'd been on a mission trip to Paraguay last spring told us Pastor Pablo who works on the OCC National Leadership Team in that country would be coming to our area.  It sounded like a great opportunity to invite people to hear him, but I just didn't have the time or the energy to make it happen.

But I and our prayer team have "cried out to God in the battle" over and over this past year.  

And, in His amazing way, He orchestrated three events--one in each county of our area, with this special OCC speaker.  I didn't plan any of these.

I think of how often I tend to minimize prayer by saying, "All I'm doing is praying."  

Yet tonight reminded me again that, as I wrote this morning, "God has the victory ready for us if we just cry out to Him and trust Him."

It's never just prayer.  

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Back to Roots

Today I went back to my shoe box roots and packed boxes in the basement of my former church--Wesley Church.  Back in 1999 we packed boxes there for the first time and packed 201--our entire total for the year.  That was a dream come true because I'd prayed for two years for that goal.

Then for the next nine years we packed more each year and watched God give us exponential growth.  By 2008 we packed boxes almost every week--totaling 7,272 of them by the time National Collection Week rolled around.

In 2009 we did fewer than 5,000 boxes there and began to do more boxes in our team's large community-wide packing party.

Still, there have been at least one or two packing parties there at Wesley Church every year.  And, truth be told, if this church and its pastor had not been so supportive of Operation Christmas Child over those early years I likely would not have continued to pack larger numbers of boxes.

So today I walked into the damp, cramped little room that was our storage area for all those years.

I dug through bins and pawed through boxes of fillers.  The set-up had already been done by Heather Rogers but as we packed more boxes and got to the end of the prepared piles, I was on a hunt for those things that had been previously overlooked.

In the past few years I'd gotten in the habit of storing here the items that I knew would be too large for the boxes at our big packing party.  A bin held two new deflated basketballs and I located a couple of hand pumps we could pack with them.

I pulled out the fluffy blankets I bought at 2:00 AM at Wal-Mart's after-Christmas clearance last January and matched them up with larger boxes.

And I reveled in the slower pace and the old familiar camaraderie of packing boxes in a smaller setting with people who remembered the earlier days of the project.

Finally, we'd packed all the boxes we could find in every nook and cranny.  Heather, my OCC Church Relations Coordinator, who has been my packing partner for the last decade, packed the last box.

We didn't even keep track of how many boxes we packed along the way, so we were surprised when we counted at the end and found we had 186 of them.  Just about what we packed after saving items all year long in 1999.

There's something sweet about going back.