December 15, 2009

Operation Christmas Child

Last week I got to go to the International Headquarters for Samaritan's Purse and help process shoe boxes.  If you're not sure what Operation Christmas child is, or what I mean by "shoe box" at this time of year, click here.  They explain it much better than I will!  Basically, individuals pack a shoe box full of items for a needy child, which will be distributed at any number of locations in the world.  We've packed shoe boxes for years, and we always enjoy it, but this was a new experience.

I expected to just go and help.  I didn't at all expect to see Christ in so much of that day!  You know, I should have known God was going to work in my heart, because I had  HOrRiblE time getting there.  Sickness here at home, sickness with my arranged childcare, last minute re-arrangements, terrible tempers and attitudes in the few minutes before I left leaving me feeling terribly guilty for even walking out the door.  But God had ordained it that I would have committed to drive 5 of us, so I couldn't back out.  But God's good, and He knows all of those aspects of daily life that Satan uses to cause us to stumble.   
And He's bigger.

Here is the huge warehouse where we processed the boxes.  By "process," I mean open them, remove the small financial donation, check them out for appropriate gifts, tape them up, put them in cartons (cardboard boxes) separated by age groups, tape the cartons and put them on the conveyor belt to head on out!
(Forgive all of the pics, they were on my phone because my camera was in the shop.  I took them anyway because I wanted you to see it all when I told you about it.)

Here are the cartons of shoe boxes that have arrived from individuals ready to be processed.

Here are the pallets they bring to the stations.

Here is our group at our processing stations.  It's an assembly line setup.

Crystal is going through the shoe boxes to make sure they're appropriately packed.  If they're not, we correct them.

I was a packer.  I had to fit as many boxes in each carton as I could, sometimes unloading and reloading the box to fit pieces in like a puzzle!  They want us to get at least 14 boxes in each carton, my record was 22.  :)  Trivially, this was a fun job!  I love doing puzzles and trying to make things fit.

Packing was a bit heavier than I thought as well.  It was amazing to think that I put these shoe boxes in a carton and the next time they are opened will be to give them to a beautiful child halfway around the world!  It was also a neat time to pray for the receivers of these gifts, that while they will enjoy their tangible gifts, they will understand why we send them... to show Christ's love to them!
After awhile our staff leader left, and I ended up with the scanner too.  Some of the shoe boxes have bar codes on them for tracking purposes.  I did it this way this year and will get an e-mail letting us know the  destination country of our boxes!  The kids are really excited about this as we've been traveling around the world for school, with one of our main focuses being the needs of others.

This is the board they have in the warehouse that displays how many shoe boxes have been processed and to which countries they are going.  All of our boxes we prepared that day are now en route to Ghana.  We were a part of processing 42,000 boxes that day!

Last year a total of 8 million boxes were given as gifts.

OCC receives more shoe boxes for girls, aged 5-9 than for any other age group.  And more than three times more!  So if you ever do a shoebox, you might want to consider doing an age group other than this.

I was amazed at the love among the staff at Samaritan's Purse.  It was clear that every person with whom I came in contact loved what they were doing and loved that we were there to help.  There is a greater purpose and a very needy world out there.  At the risk of sounding quite odd, it really was kind of surreal to be a part of it.  The world is so big, and there are so many children.  But God loves every. single. one of them and wants them all to know Him personally.  And while I'd love to move my family to an orphanage in some other country, this is one way I can share His love one day at a time while living here until He moves me further.

1 comment:

Julie said...

Beautiful, Melissa. How wonderful you had a chance to be a part of it! We hope to volunteer with our kids when they are older. Thanks for sharing.