Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Packing Party Postscripts

It's been 11 days since our Operation Christmas Child packing party ended, and I've done a lot of thinking about how the day went.  I wish I would have had the luxury of thinking more during that day, but there wasn't much time for that and that may have resulted in sending fewer boxes on our trucks.

On Monday evening I met with our core packing party team to debrief the event.  I planned to start out discussing the good things about the day, but I only got two things listed on my sheet of paper before the discussion of problems ensued.

Oh, yes...there are many things we'd wish to change.  The problem is...we do this every year.  We plan for ways to improve and then find the next year that so many things change and the challenges are different.  I guess this keeps us depending on God.

With no person to actually take charge of the packing party this year, the leadership fell to me.  And I dropped the ball in so many ways.  We didn't meet together as a team.  I tried to orchestrate everything through e-mails, and this was a big mistake.

We didn't have any special clothing or name tags to designate official lead volunteers so a sort of anarchy developed where self-appointed leaders jumped in to make decisions that caused problems.

Then there was the problem of the ever-changing items.  I had plans based on getting those 10,500 water bottles.   When they didn't arrive by the morning of the packing party I tried to change gears when it came to what we were using for anchor items.  Not having much time to think, I made some on-the-spot decisions that turned out to be less-than-desirable -- especially when those water bottles miraculously were delivered at 12:30 pm when many of the volunteers were leaving.

God is sovereign, so I believe none of this was a surprise to Him.  Still, as I look back I see things I could have done to get more packed boxes on those trucks.

If only I'd ordered the water bottles more than two weeks in advance
If only we hadn't started using the flip-flops earlier in the day
If only I'd tried to purchase more stuffed animals
If only I'd made up more jump ropes to use as fillers
If only I'd scheduled volunteer meetings or worked harder to recruit volunteers

Every year we have run out of something--cartons and/or boxes or truck space.  This year I was determined that wouldn't happen.  We had plenty of boxes and cartons and truck space this year.

Ironically, we returned four cartons of unused boxes and 70 unused cartons and had half of a truck unfilled.

And the storage container that is usually nearly empty after a packing party looks like this--

So many items still waiting to become treasures to needy children.

Still, despite some tough odds, God allowed us to pack 22,647 boxes and we packed 18,647 of those in 7.5 hours on Saturday (more than we've ever packed in one day) with only 2/3 of the usual number of volunteers.

Because the water bottles were so late in arriving I was able to negotiate a good discount with the company, and I can use that extra money toward the shipping of the boxes.

By God's grace, this postscript isn't finished yet.  God still has good plans that are yet to be revealed.

All my "if onlys" are "yes" in Him.

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