Wednesday, December 02, 2015

We packed a shoebox.


That's how I feel about this ministry.  I very clearly remember the first time I packed a shoebox.  It was 1994.  Little did I know then that 21 years later I would still be packing boxes but with my three children.  Little did anyone know then how the Lord would bless and multiply the efforts of a few to bring joy and the good news of salvation to over 124 million children in over 150 countries all over the world . . . all in a SHOEBOX.

As we shopped and prepared and packed our boxes this year, I just couldn't get over it.  I just can't.  

Shopping day is always a lot of fun and something the kids really look forward to.  It usually takes all day and several stops, but it is well worth it.

After we went shopping, we came home and carefully packed our boxes.  Let me just tell you.  You can fit A LOT of stuff in a shoebox!  It's almost as if the Lord just multiplies the space, kind of like he multiplied those 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread to feed thousands!

Our favorite items in Mason's shoeboxes this year were the soccer balls and pumps.  We also includes tools and legos and matchbox cars and all kinds of goodies for our special boys this year.

Hannah Kate packed jump ropes and purses and water bottles and sewing kits and friendship bracelet kits and all kinds of girlie things.

Ellie packed baby dolls and coloring books and costume jewelry and other fun toys for her boxes.  She has packed a box every year, but this is the first year that she's beginning to really understand what she is doing and why.  It's such a joy to see her smile!

The girls packed their boxes so neatly and carefully.  They were so proud of their boxes.

What a blessing to pack our boxes this year!  I truly don't know who is more blessed . . . the children who will receive the boxes . . . or us having the privilege to pack the boxes!

We had a really fun packing party at church this year!  We collected items during the past couple of months and assembled 96 boxes!

Last year our boxes were delivered to the African countries of Ghana and Togo.  So we had an African-themed packing party!  My in-laws took a mission trip to Africa about 14 years ago and brought back many hand-made African goods.  I displayed all of them for the children to see, and we served several popular Ghanian dishes for the kids to taste.  I had the most fun in the kitchen that morning!

We stacked our boxes in the sanctuary so we could pray over them and the children they will be going to.  Several of the children had already left before I took this picture, but here we are.

Two of my favorite girls came and helped us label and sort all of the boxes.  I just love these girls!

I am so thankful for all 96 boxes . . . packed with excitement and love and care.

The very first packing party I hosted at my church was in 2010.  Oh, how my heart smiled when I saw this picture!  We had such fun at this little party!  Look at how little Hannah Kate (front row, second from left) and Mason (front row, mouth wide open!) were!  All of these children have grown so much!  And so have the number of boxes we've packed over the years.

Here are Mason and Hannah Kate with their boxes the following year 2011.

I don't know what happened in 2012, but I didn't take any pictures of our boxes that year!

But here we are again in 2013.

This picture was taken at our packing party that same year.

Last year we had face painting at our party.

A couple of weeks ago, Operation Christmas Child posted this photo on Facebook.  They receive the least amount of boxes for boys ages 10-14 years old.  Earlier this year, this young teenager in Granada was photographed kissing the shoebox he had just been given.  
They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  Well.  I don't have a thousand words to even begin to tell you the emotions this picture stirred in my heart.  And still does.  My Mason is 10 years old.  And to think . . . of all the 10 year old boys in war-torn, impoverished, disease-infested, spiritually darkened countries . . . boys who have little to nothing . . . boys who are just as rambunctious and loud and charismatic and sensitive and compassionate as my Mason . . . boys who just need a hug and a smile and love and the Gospel . . . and a shoebox.

A soccer ball, matchbox cars, legos, tools, undies, toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, wash rag, candy, gum.  Simple gifts.

The Gospel message.  The greatest gift.


All in a shoebox.

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