Sunday, November 21, 2010

The power of a simple gift: The Shoebox Packing Party!

Every year for almost as long as we have been married, our family has put together shoeboxes for children in need in participation with Operation Christmas Child. Just about everyone we know participates too, so I am sure that this ministry is not new to you either. We have always loved the traditions surrounding the upcoming Christmas season and the collection of the boxes is always before Thanksgiving so it is a wonderful way to begin the holidays as we mean to end- by giving and remembering those in need. Every year we go out shopping together and every member of our family has a specific age child to buy for- it is so funny how we pick the same age and gender every time. We enjoy doing this as a family and usually end up filling maybe 5 or 6 boxes full. 

Until this year.

This year was a little different.

It all started a few weeks ago on Orphan Sunday. Randy and I had brought resources to church and wore our cool shirts to raise awareness and there was a very moving video shown at church about Operation Christmas Child. We had friends over for lunch and watched the Cry of the Orphan dvd and our kids were listening in. It had already been a great day.
But it was about to get even better.
Well, later on one of our boys came in from playing outside to tell us about a conversation he had with one of the neighbor kids. I guess he asked the boy if he knew that today was Orphan Sunday. (I love that he thought it was like a holiday or something!) The kid said, "No, I don't go to church remember?!" And I guess our son proceeded to tell him all about all the orphans in the world, then asked him why he didn't go to church and then shared with him about Christ! Then the boy finally asked "so is that why you're homeschooled?" (of course I am wondering what in the world he said to him after that!) So Jensen tells him "Well I am homeschooled because they don't teach the TRUTH in school and I can learn the TRUTH at home! Do you know the TRUTH?" Totally his own words and idea of why he gets to do school at home!
Wow! This is our "shy" one who is saying this- the Lord is truly giving him BOLDNESS for Him and it is amazing to see!
So after we talked about this conversation with the neighbor, we knew the Lord didn't want it to stop there. We started thinking and praying about an opportunity to reach more of the neighbor kids and all of a sudden it hit us...

So we decided to have a shoebox packing party!

We went out as a family like usual to do our shopping, but instead of buying to fill up 5 or 6 boxes, we got enough to fill 20 shoeboxes!!! Crazy!

We went door to door of the houses with kids in our neighborhood and asked their parents if it was ok if they helped to put gifts together to give to a child in need somewhere else in the world. The amazing part about it was that even the families who are of a totally different religion were very much for the idea. The fact that every parent wants their child to care about someone other than themselves must be universal. And we were excited that it was a total open door to share about WHY we do this in the first place!

We set up a few tables in our front yard (to make it less intimidating than coming into the house if they didn't know us well) and we just piled on the STUFF for the boxes! There was so much fun stuff: toys, games, crayons, hair stuff, and of course CANDY, as well as all the practical things like socks, soap and toothbrushes. Just getting the tables ready made me giddy for what the Lord was going to do! :)

Slowly the kids came and got instructions on how to fill their boxes and then got to work!

Some came from non-Christian homes and others were believers. It was awesome to see the kids working together for a common purpose and greater cause!

Everyone was happy and having fun.
Well almost everyone.

Elliana wasn't feeling very good that day, but we managed to get through it with the help of a cookie or two. There weren't many left...

We had every kid write a letter to include in their shoebox

and I took a picture of each of them holding their box.

I made two copies of each picture and one got sent with the shoebox gift and the other we will give to the kids to remind them of what they did and to pray for the child who will receive it.

  Although it was only a small thing, we pray that seeds were planted and that the Lord would continue to use our family to reach the nations. Both right here in our neighborhood and on the other side of the world. I am so thankful for the way He is working in my kids' hearts despite all of our failures as parents. And there are many!

20 boxes filled! Yay!

***Thank you to those of you who left comments after the last post. Your words meant so much. We are still seeking the Lord for how to proceed with the next steps to grow our family. We know there are more children meant to join our family, we are just a bit confused and exhausted at the moment. Thank you for praying for us and for the millions of orphans who are waiting...


Leah said...

HI! I have not commented a long time, but I read every post!

Wow, what an awesome way to not only bless children around the world, but also bless the children right under your nose. :-)

Praying God would make it clear to your family in how He wants to grow your family.

Steve Finnell said...

you are invioted to follow my blog

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