Holy High! No, really. I pity the poor disillusioned people who think partnering in God's work is anything less than a miracle. I am so high right now.
This packing party was simply amazing and filled with so many blessings. This was our 8th packing party and each year our team has debriefed and tried to improve, but this year I felt like we made quantum leaps.
Each area of the packing process had a designated team leader or leaders, and that made such a huge difference. I hardly had to field any questions at all and got to just float around and talk to people and do a few little tasks to fill in. The hard decisions were made by other people. Talk about heaven!
On Friday morning our friends from a Christian school 90 minutes away brought 30 students and chaperones to pack boxes and churned out 2,760 of them. They were such fantastic kids and great workers.
We regrouped for the evening youth packing party where 142 students from 17 different churches and organizations came together to continue the packing and ended the night at a record number of 8,533 boxes. We had so much fun with the #ipackedashoebox frame that came in the mail just in time. People loved getting their pictures taken. Just look at these cutie patooties--
By the time we finished clean up, my husband and I dragged out of there at 10:30. Silly us--we left Cathi and Pam behind and they ended up staying and working until after 11:00 pm. I can't remember the last time I was that tired.
This morning I awoke to a hard rain but knew nothing was stopping us. It was so exciting to assemble for our final Jericho March to kick off the morning. On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday we did two prayer marches around the church--one in the morning and one in the evening--getting in six before this morning's seventh march. The power of that united prayer this morning was electrifying.
By God's grace the opening got us off to a good start with a showing of a few OCC videos, an explanation of the day, and the highlight of a presentation by Jane, our Church Relations Coordinator, who told the story of the gospel as it would be taught to children at a shoebox distribution.
The packing started at 9:30 and continued through the day with a good stream of volunteers that came at a smoother pace throughout the day than usual. We had a total of 360 box packing volunteers plus 50 event volunteers and they came from a total of 51 different churches and organizations to make it happen. Despite monsoon rains that came and went and some boxes that needed to be repaired, the day moved along quickly.
This is truck loading attire during a downpour.
Lunch came and went and the volunteers stayed! We were so afraid they'd leave after lunch...
In the afternoon we were at 23,783 when our team Network Coordinator and longtime official emcee got everyone's attention and called Jim and I over to present us with the 150,000th box packed since we started the packing parties in 2009. That was unexpected and emotional. Tears sprung up as I quickly reflected on God's goodness and grace that produced every one of those boxes.
There were those moments of doubt--Will we have enough fillers to make it to 26,000? Will the supply of baseball hats hold out? Should we label all the boxes or hold some back unlabeled in case we don't make the goal.
One by one, as always, the decisions were made just when we needed to make them--Just keep adding those fillers (and someone shows up with another bag of stuffed animals.) Just recount those baseball hat cartons (oh, yeah--we only counted the girls' ones and not the boys'--no wonder we thought we'd be short.) Yes--in faith we WILL label all the boxes.
As the minutes ticked toward 4:00 pm we ran out of boxes labeled for girls just as we ran out of girls' filler items. Well, what do you know?
We cut the lines down from four to just the two lines for boys and kept packing. And...almost at the stroke of 4:00...just like that...the last one of those special yellow boxes was packed.
We gathered anxiously together to get the total revealed....and...(drum rollllllllll)
They'd sent us 26,500 boxes so we must have lost two of those casualties along the way. I looked around at all the items still surrounding me...eight cartons containing at least 1600 baseball hats...three cartons of sunglasses....cases of plastic cups....and more of the basic items.
My instinct was to start folding GO boxes and keep packing. But my team's warned me before to stop packing at 4:00 so we have volunteers and energy for clean up. So...stop we did.
Then we gathered around three of the trucks (the fourth was placed in another spot) to pray for the children who will receive these boxes and to praise God for so many answered prayers.
We serve a God of miracles...and I'm still riding that miracle high...
ps--Our team has a fundraising page to help defray the cost of shipping our shoeboxes. You can make a secure donation at this link directly to Samaritan's Purse to help get these boxes on their way-- click here to make a donation: https://www.classy.org/fundraise/team?ftid=85003