Thursday, March 19, 2015

#tbt Twilight Zone

 (photo from 2010 Operation Christmas Child packing party in Erie, PA)

I have a love-hate relationship with technology.  I'm in the process of switching my use from the MAC laptop I purchased in 2008 to our new MAC laptop.  Did I mention I hate change?  I find myself frequently having to go back to the old computer to find an old e-mail or address that I need.

My daughter put many of the photos that were stored on the old computer into Dropbox but I can never figure out how to access them when I need them.  I just went to the old computer and sent myself a picture to use on this blog.  I really need to figure this out before the old computer dies a certain death.

So...imagine my surprise when I just did a search in my e-mail account on my new computer only to have a bunch of old 'sent' messages from 2010-2012 pop up.  Now, these are messages that I feel sure I deleted from the old computer years ago.

This is a true "Throw Back Thursday" that I never planned.

But...what a blessing these messages have been.

Yesterday my husband and Pam, our area team media coordinator, joined me on a trip to Warren, PA to visit our collection center coordinator there.  It's a three-hour round trip and on the way home we were talking about our 2015 Operation Christmas Child community packing party planned for September 18th & 19th this year.

As we discussed some of the challenges and mused about the fact that several people at the recent OCC Connect Conference told us they'd stopped doing large packing parties for various reasons, my mind started to spin with doubts again.

Is this really what God wants us to do?  That's always the basic question.  Because if God is for us, then who can be against?

Still, as we talked about the possibility of having several different shifts and whether that would increase or decrease our volunteer pool...

And as we talked about all the thousands of items we still need and how to obtain them...

And as we talked (again--do we ever stop?) about how God will provide the funds for these boxes to be shipped...

Those persistent whispers echoed in my mind telling me it would be a WHOLE lot easier to just cancel the whole thing.

So...this morning, inexplicably, I am bombarded with my own messages about God's provision for our packing party in 2010.  I wrote this e-mail in response to questions from an OCC staff writer on 9/27/10--

"God moved in so many ways over the packing party on Saturday.  Last year when we had our first large packing party I was so blown away by God's provision.  This year I worried that I wouldn't have that same sense of wonder.  I thought I knew what to expect and that I wouldn't have that same awe and surprise.  Well, I was wrong.

There were a number of obstacles that came up in the week before the party.  On Thursday afternoon the last 3000 boxes of crayons came in, which was a true blessing since they'd been on order for almost 4 weeks.  The paper that was to be donated did finally come on Friday afternoon but it was much less than I expected--only three small boxes of paper--and not nearly enough for all the boxes.  It was a blessing that God had provided thousands of free coloring books for us.  

I ordered 4 of the 3" wide packing tape dispensers a week ago and they were to be sent via UPS from the Staples store in Meadville--a city about an hour's drive from Erie.  They stil hadn't arrived by the time I returned home from school on Friday so I called the Staples store to check on them and found they had never been sent.  The only way to get them would be to drive a two-hour round trip to Meadville.  I tried to think of someone I knew from that area who could pick them up and then I realized that Leigh Fisher, my OCC Regional Director, was driving up from Baltimore to come for the packing party.  I called her cell phone but didn't reach her and left a voice mail.  About 5 minutes later my phone rang and Leigh said, "Kathy, I'm in Meadville.  I got a late start because I had problems with my rental car this morning."  I asked her if she'd received my voice mail and she hadn't.  But she was just 2 miles from the Staples store and went to pick up the tape dispensers with no problem.  It was a God thing that she was delayed in the morning and thus was in just the right spot at the right time to pick them up.  

total boxes packed = 12,670  (if you remember from some of the totals I gave you in advance, this is quite a few more than I anticipated.  The first thing we ran out of was toothpaste and then pens but we kept packing as long as we had enough items to make decent boxes.  We used every usable box we had.  I had wanted to discard some of the regular shoe store boxes that were littering the storage area before the party but I'm glad I didn't because each one ended up being filled.

We expected around 200 volunteers BUT we ended up with 500 volunteers from 25 different churches and organizations. There were over 100 Girl Scouts alone.  The neat thing was that I believe many of them were not 'church people' and it was so great to bring them into the church for an event like this.  Our space was a bit overloaded and they had to wait in line to get to the 'shoebox packing line' but it was still wonderful.  

The packing was over by about 3:30 and it took until 5:00 pm to totally finish the clean-up but packing 12,670 boxes in 6 hours was amazing.  At one point we were doing 1000 every 20 minutes which is way beyond anything I ever imagined.   I was TOTALLY SURPRISED once again by our AWESOME GOD.  Even a few years ago I never could have imagined anything like this."

And there were a dozen other e-mails in this bunch, too.  Messages of thanks to team members that reminded me of all their efforts over the past years; messages between me and fellow OCC volunteers who have been my prayer partners; messages from relay center coordinators with their numbers of shoe boxes collected in 2010 and 2011 that remind me just how far God has brought us.   

I still have absolutely no idea how these precious reminders of God's provision that I'm certain were deleted years ago ended up in the e-mail on my new computer this morning, but God used them as memorial stones of His goodness today.  

And, after all, His goodness is always a mystery.

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