Saturday, December 6, 2014

Appreciating The Sabbath

A six-day work week is a good way to make one appreciate observing the sabbath.  I have to say, though, that even with six days in a row of work this second week of working at the Operation Christmas Child processing center has been a bit easier than the first.

Even before the work day actually began (we always get there about a half hour early) I started sorting donated GIK (Gifts In Kind--the technical name for donated filler items.)  In the first carton I found this very cute but inappropriately large cuddly animal.  The cool thing is that all the items that are inappropriate for shoe boxes are donated to local charities so I know this guy will make some child happy right here in the US.

Here's another thing we found in the same box--

Technically, these items are not inappropriate, but it's not really cool to donate your OCC volunteer appreciation gifts as shoe box fillers.  I guess we'll give that volunteer the benefit and say they were just being truly selfless.

The day started with devotions and then some of us got to go out to the loading dock to pray for the three sea containers of shoe boxes ready to ship to Panama.

I returned to sorting incoming donations and found two carefully bundled towels with my brother and sister-in-law's names embroidered on them.  I think it's safe to say this box of GIK came from our processing center in Erie and it was nice to see a piece of home.

A few minutes later my husband came over to excitedly tell me he'd found some boxes from East Lake Rd. Alliance Church on line 9 but I never did get to see them.  So, friends from ELRAC--at least some of your boxes are on the way to Panama.

At 10:00 I was delighted to see the crowd from Jim Urban's area in North Pittsburgh come in for their work shift.  My friend and OCC team media coordinator, Pam Niedhammer, was with them and I drafted her to work on some projects for me.  I forgot to get a picture of Pam as she worked for over two hours doing a detailed inventory of a random carton of GIK.

Meanwhile I put 30 volunteers to work putting cute plastic rings into bags to make more filler items.   (Okay that was just one sentence but the work involved in that project means hauling supplies, trying to anticipate needs, and responding to repeated requests for "more bags", "more rings", "more stickers" or "another empty box" when you can't keep up with the needs.)

Pam and I also completed a crude inventory of remaining filler items and they are dwindling quickly.  There are still about a half million (I mean that literally because I actually inventoried them) of those adorable plastic rings.  If only they would put themselves into bags to make more substantial filler items.

The highlight of the day that puts all the stuff of the last few paragraphs into perspective was hearing from a young woman who grew up in orphanages in Honduras and received a shoe box when she was six years old.  (pictured below--second from the left)

She eloquently described what it meant to receive simple items that belonged only to her, since the orphans had to share all their belongings, including 25 sharing one toothbrush.  More than the items, though, she cherished the hope that came from knowing that a "little girl in America" whose picture she found in her box had packed it especially for her.  She kept that picture and years later when she faced despair as a teenager God used the picture to remind her that He cared for her.  She was later adopted and came to America where she was able to finish her education, graduate from college, and now works with Fellowship of Christian Athletes.  What a wonderful reminder of the power of a simple gift.

Full-Circle Saturday is my favorite day of the week...and a great way to begin a sabbath.

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