Sunday, December 27, 2015

Gone In A Blur

I have to say the last two weeks have gone by in a blur.  It seems impossible that it's been nearly two weeks since I wrote on this blog, but...

The Operation Christmas Child processing season at the Baltmore (BWI) Processing Center came to a quick end on Wednesday evening, December 16th.  We'd been wondering all day when the last box would be finished, and I'm glad Jim and I decided to go back on Wednesday evening to volunteer so we were there to see that last box processed.

Here's the guy who got the honor of processing the last box (yes, he is really 13.)

 Our friend and first shift floor manager, Tiffanie Wells, was excited (then started to cry a minute later.)
Second shift Quality Control manager, Jeff Berger, led the "last box ceremony" and I was blessed to be asked to join second shift chaplain Richmond Laney in praying over this last box.

Even as we volunteers were processing those last cartons of boxes, the staff and associates were efficiently working to break down the stations that were not being used so clean up would be accomplished as smoothly as possible.  As much as I wanted to go home it was still a little sad to watch everything come down.

 The walls of cartons were taken down and all the boxes processed.
 And these were waiting to be loaded onto the last of the sea containers.
 My husband actually looks pretty happy in the role of volunteer for the evening.
 One by one each station finished the last of their boxes
 While on the other side of the warehouse it's looking pretty empty and forlorn
and all those carefully selected filler items are destined to get piled into "miscellaneous" cartons

We were able to return for first shift the next morning, and I was blessed to be able to lead devotions with the associates one more time.  I talked about how we're so prone to think our satisfaction lies in that thing we're waiting for--a marriage or a better job or a nicer home--when really we can never be satisfied except in Jesus.  He is always and only Enough.  I offered a "Steps To Peace With God" booklet to anyone who wanted one and many took them.  I'm praying God continues His work in all of our lives as well as in the lives of the more than 679,000 children who will receive the boxes we processed at BWI this year.

We all dispersed to continue the breakdown and cleanup efforts.  I took down the pictures on the prayer wall and carefully packaged up the 1,064 that had prayers written on the back.  I know that God has heard each of those prayers and will be intervening on behalf of these children around the world.  What a privilege and a miracle we have in prayer.

 The last of the written prayers on the prayer wall

That afternoon we were blessed when Lisa, a blog reader and friend from Virginia, drove in with her husband to drop off her last 100 packed shoeboxes.  It was so great to reconnect with them and to tell a few other people about all the answered prayers God has provided for our families in the past year.  Just more proof of what a good, good Father we have.

It was exciting to get on our way home that afternoon, despite the fog and rain.  As we drove home I spent a lot of time thanking God for His provision in so many ways.

I am so grateful for my personal prayer team of three--my OCC prayer coordinator,  another mentor who is two decades older than I, and a teenager from California who sent me such amazingly wise and encouraging e-mails.  Of course I'm thankful also for every prayer prayed by those I know and those I do not know.  Prayer warriors around the country and even around the world were praying in general for our processing centers and we were blessed to see God answer in specific ways.

I know, also, that God has worked in many ways I have not seen or have not seen yet.  It's all such a glorious mystery and a real cause for awe.

We made it home at 9 pm on Thursday and our daughters arrived on Friday to celebrate our family Christmas.  We didn't care that the tree was hastily purchased at Home Depot, and it was sweet of my daughters to decorate it themselves on Friday night.

We enjoyed Christmas with my extended family on Saturday night and had a Star Wars-themed celebration with our daughters.  We saw the new movie together, assembled a 3D puzzle of a Star Wars vehicle, and did some Star Wars light saber thumb wrestling.

Now I'm back to prepping for our 2016 shoeboxes.  Yesterday and today Jim and I spent 16 hours unpacking and rubber banding 1600 belts.

I wanted to get them ready to store in the container so I can take them tomorrow when I meet the truck that's bringing 6,336 baseball hats.  I'm praying for decent weather tomorrow so we can get them sorted and stored easily.

But that's a story for another day that will be gone in a blur...

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