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.

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