If I had the technical ability to edit this meme, I would change it to "Keep Calm and Process Shoeboxes." But this shoebox processing stuff is not calm at all. It's pretty crazy.
I remember our first trip to the processing center at Boone, NC in 2006. It really did seem calm in comparison. I don't remember feeling pressured. Well, of course I didn't. I didn't have any responsibility except to peacefully inspect shoeboxes.
Being the chaplain at the processing center makes me feel like I'm some kind of imposter. I walk around the PC and pray, and I've had the opportunity to pray with some folks, too. It still feels weird. It's one thing to spontaneously pray for people when the Spirit moves, but it's quite another to take it on as a job description.
Prayer is such a mystery. It's not measurable and doesn't lend itself to evaluation. Still, I am amazed at how our sovereign God answers our feeble and generalized prayers in specific ways. I, in my blindness, pray over and over seemingly lame prayers like, "Bless the volunteers and the staff" for every processing center around the country. I don't even know how to pray, other than praying Scripture--which is my constant default.
God, however, knows each need and in His might and grace He answers. This was evident to me yesterday when I asked a volunteer on her way out of the PC how her day went. "It was great," she said with a smile, "and the best part was that I was talking to my brother-in-law on the way here and he received Christ. I'd been praying for him for so long." Now there's a specific answer to that general "Bless the volunteers" prayer. Thank You, Lord.
I'm still trying to find some sort of rhythm to my day. Last year when I worked on managing and stocking filler items (GIK or gifts-in-kind) I ran around all day. The two young women who are handling that job this year seem laid back and calm and caught up all the time. Huh. I'm thinking I must have missed the ball there, too.
So I walk around the PC praying through a now-specific list of prayer requests that have been written and left by volunteers and staff. And the mystery continues because I will likely never know how any of these requests that pertain to the personal lives of people I won't see will be answered.
Meanwhile there have been some sweet spots in these first four days. Today a group of American Heritage Girls (a sort of Christian version of Girl Scouts) came to visit for a family tour. What joy it was to watch them each choose a picture of a child from the prayer wall, write a prayer on the back, and put it back on the wall.
There's an innocence and simplicity to the prayers of these children. They, too, will likely never know the answers to their prayers this side of heaven.
Ahh, the sweet mystery.