Monday, November 13, 2017

And...We're Off!

Yes, I know. It's been almost three weeks again since I've written on this blog. Oy vey. Life just keeps happening...

And...we're off!  All year long we measure time in the Operation Christmas Child world by the number of weeks until National Collection Week.  Guess what?! It's here! Today marks the beginning of the week of harvesting these precious Gospel Opportunities.

Are we ready?'s hard to be ready when you're not sure what God's got planned, but we've prayed and we've recruited drop-off sites (even though we're down three from last year) and now we're waiting for the boxes to come through those doors.

I haven't exactly been slacking over the last three weeks.  Life has been pleasantly filled with good things, including TWO baby showers for our first grandchild, due on December 22nd.

Our daughter and her husband chose not to learn the gender of their baby, but, as you can see from the cake, he or she is already loved as can 'bee' (the shower theme) and we're more than ready to hold that precious miracle.

Well, I'm thinking the baby will be a lot cuter than this, but my husband did do a great job on the fruit basket bassinet.

And, then, of course, there are boxes.  First there were the 116 big boxes of visors (25,000 of them) that we received delivery on two weeks ago for our 2018 boxes. It was a COLD and rainy day, despite my prayers, but we got that delivery in a shiny UPS freight truck that was only a week old and managed to get all the boxes tucked into the storage container in record time.

And, then, I've been packing more boxes at home.  Between the packing party and boxes packed in the aftermath I really wanted to get 1,000 more boxes than last year.  Our team goal for our area this year is 54,321--4,015 more boxes than last year--so I know we need every box.

The 28.032 packed at the packing party put us 263 above last year's complete total. But as of a week ago I'd only packed 300 or so at home, opposed to the 1200 I did last year.  I couldn't imagine packing enough to get 1,000 more than last year's total of 27,769.

I kept praying along the way about how many to pack and just kept going.  Last week I made a few more runs to collect stuffed animals but knew I was running out of good boys' fillers.  When I drove into my driveway after picking up 41 stuffed animals these bags were sitting by my back door.

My neighbor is a tennis coach and sometimes leaves bags of used balls for me.  After I carefully inspect them I usually find only about 1/3 of them are box-worthy. But not this time! Nearly every one of these balls was in new condition.  So...I figured I would keep packing.

My husband kept assembling boxes and I kept filling them with good quality baseball hats and soap and pencils and pens and crayons and paper and coloring books and cups and balls and stuffed animals.  The stacks kept growing.

Meanwhile, last Wednesday I had a precious time with the students at Leadership Christian Academy. I got to speak to them in chapel and then they packed close to 200 shoeboxes at a packing party.

I was especially touched to see children praying over their boxes.  I know God is hearing and will bless the children who get these in extraordinary ways.

On Saturday I calculated I'd packed 305 boxes this past week and added to the 361 I packed previously the total came to 666--nope, couldn't leave it at that.  So, after praying, I decided to grab more leftover baseball hats from the storage container on Sunday and keep packing.

I've been pinch hitting as Project Leader at my church this year--not doing the job well but at least doing something--and Sunday morning was our final box collection.  Last year we collected 423 but this year God gave us 195 so far.

A number of people forgot their boxes and will take them to drop-off site this week, so I'm praying for more. I was especially blessed when our local TV station sent a reporter to do an interview and we got some media hits on the Sunday evening news and early Monday morning news. I'm praying God will use that exposure to bring in more boxes.

Yesterday afternoon found me packing again, and I finished 66 more boxes. I still need to put the finishing touches of hammers and nails and screws in the five tool kits.

I thought a few weeks ago it could never happen, but, by God's grace, it did. Between the 28,032 boxes packed at the packing party and the 737 packed at home the total stands at 28,769--exactly 1,000 more than last year.

Of course, you never know what bargains or donations could still come along so I didn't put the packing supplies away yet.

But now it's time to prayerfully collect all those boxes packed in other living rooms around our area. Because it's NATIONAL COLLECTION WEEK....and...we're off!

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