Happy New Year! It’s been a while, but I am finally getting back to BBB with a post that was inspired in the old year. I always run a bit behind. And, I get distracted. I know that I wrote a post about accountability, and I promised a follow-up to that. I have not forgotten. I remain accountable.
And, who can begin a new year without at least addressing the idea of goals (I don’t wish to jinx any successes by using the “R” word)? Those thoughts are in my head as well, but today, I wanted to share with you an experience I had during the holiday season and an opportunity for you to consider this year.
There is one outreach my family supports each holiday season; we have done so since my children were very young. It is Operation Christmas Child, part of Samaritan’s Purse International Relief, a Franklin Graham ministry. Many of you will be familiar with filling the boxes full of small toys, toiletries, hard candy, and stuffed animals to be sent to children all over the world.
I started filling boxes with my own kids for a couple of reasons. It helped them to actively participate in the giving. They loved going to dollar stores and shopping for items for a boy or girl just their age, and they still get excited about it. It makes me happy to think of children who have so little receiving a shoebox full of treasures selected especially for them. And, they also receive information about the gospel story with their boxes. OCC wants to provide something special for these children. But, more importantly, they seek to make disciples.
So, it was super rewarding to go with my daughter, two of her classmates, and their school’s administrative assistant in early December to one of the OCC processing centers. There are nine around the country; we visited and worked at the Minneapolis center for three days. It was a great experience.
The trip was five days, because we spent two of them on the road. Of course, we HAD to see the Mall of America. Cha-Ching! And, we had a great time at an activity called Escape MSP. It was a room from which you had to escape, using your wits, in order to avoid being blown up. We exploded. Fun times!
The time at the center was awesome. Volunteers come from all over, and, after a bit of training, work alongside hundreds of others. It was fun to visit with others serving as we inspected, taped, scanned, and packed boxes to be shipped. At periodic intervals, operations would stop so that we could pray over the boxes or hear stories of how the boxes had touched lives all over the globe. Did you know one young woman found and married the man who sent her a box when he was just a boy 14 years earlier? That’s definitely a “God-thing”!
My adult partner found copies of a beautiful letter included in many boxes. One family, having lost a daughter, prepares boxes every year in honor of their child, and they shared their story with the recipients of those boxes.
Our girls enjoyed meeting a twenty-something worker there, too. She was our line leader for at least one of the three days, and they thought Stephanie was very cool. She was. And, it made me realize how important young Christian mentors are to our younger girls. I think that’s a topic for a future post, too!
There are many ways to give and serve during the holidays. Many are super generous during the Christmas season at the local, national, and international level. It’s one of the most precious things about that time of year.
There is much more to say about our mission trip, but I will leave you with links for OCC, the wonderful school my daughter attends, Mall of America, Escape MSP, and the story mentioned above.
Enjoy a Thoughtful Thursday,