Thursday, November 14, 2013

Operation Christmas Child 2013

Last year we participated in Operation Christmas Child for the first time, and we knew that we wanted to do it again this year! It is a wonderful way to give to a child in need and share the love of Christ.

Over the past several months I have kept my eyes out for clothes, toys, shoes, and personal hygiene items that were on sale or clearance. If I found something good, I snagged it up right away. Last Friday we had a family outing to finish shopping for our shoebox items.



These are the gifts for a girl age 2-4. 
I thought I wasn't going to be able to get all of these items into the shoebox. 




But it all fit!  It's amazing how much you can fit into a shoebox with careful packing!




I wish I could see the little girl's face when she opens the box to find a baby doll. 



We found a lot of great things for a boy age 5-9.



This one was trickier to pack, but once again, everything fit!

Last year I didn't buy any shoes or clothing items for the children because I was afraid that they wouldn't fit the child who received them. You don't know the exact age or size of the child who will receive the shoebox, so it is hard to know what size clothes to buy. However, after reading numerous stories on the Operation Christmas Child facebook page, I decided that those fears were pretty silly. There are so many stories about children who had a very specific need or want that was met through the items in his or her shoebox.

One such story tells about a child who was in need of orthopedic shoes, and in his shoebox he found orthopedic shoes in his size! God is sovereign over shoebox distribution, and He makes sure that the each shoebox goes to the child who needs it. At the end of this blog post I will share some stories of ways God has used shoebox gifts to meet particular needs and wants in the lives of precious children around the world.

This year we have put shoes and clothes in both shoeboxes. We are praying that these items will go to the children who need those specific sizes. We are also praying that God will use these gifts to show the love of Christ in a tangible way to these children and that they will come to know Jesus as their Savior.



Boxes are packed, labeled, and ready for drop off!


Here are a few stories from the Operation Christmas Child facebook page of ways that God has used shoebox gifts to make a difference in the lives of children around the world:
A teenage mother brought her 3-year-old son to an OCC shoebox distribution in Belize. She said that several days before the distribution, he had asked her for some marbles. When he opened his box, there was a bag of marbles in the box! His mother began to cry, and said she felt that God had given her child something he really desired. 
As a housepainter in India, Brion could not make enough money to buy his daughter, Fabeniana, a Christmas gift. Year after year, he would come home empty-handed. One Christmas, Brion had a very special surprise. For the first time, he was able to give his little girl a gift—an Operation Christmas Child shoebox full of goodies. When she opened her shoebox, she was amazed to find a pretty dress that was just her size. That Christmas, Brion was encouraged by a simple shoebox gift. He was reminded that God was there watching over his family, and was able to share the greatest Christmas gift imaginable with his young daughter: the gift of salvation and unconditional love. 
In a poor, countryside town in Uruguay, four brothers arrived barefoot at a shoe box gift distribution. They wore tattered handmade sandals to school, and went barefoot the rest of the time to preserve what little of the sandals remained. Volunteers asked the brothers what they hoped to receive in their boxes, and they replied that they just wanted shoes. They opened their boxes and each had a brand new pair of shoes inside. They ran home yelling, “Daddy, I have shoes to go to school!” The father came back to ask if he had to pay for the gifts, and the volunteers explained that the gifts were freely given as an example of the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. The father cried when he learned the gifts were free, and accepted Christ. The family told the whole neighborhood what the Lord had done for them, and many people accepted Christ. 
When a boy received his OCC shoebox gift at a distribution in Brazil, he asked if he would have Hot Wheels in the box. Volunteers explained that they did not know which boxes contained which items, and handed him a box. When he opened it, more than half of the box was filled with Hot Wheels! "That was the most toy cars I've ever seen in a box," said a volunteer at the distribution. 
While distributing Operation Christmas Child shoe box gifts in a village in Ghana, a member of the National Leadership Team noticed the thickly calloused feet of a young boy. “Please, God, let this boy receive a pair of shoes in his box,” the woman prayed. The boy had never owned a pair of shoes and walked a total of six miles just to get to school every day. When the child opened his box, he found not just one pair of shoes, but two, and both pairs were just his size. The volunteer rejoiced when she saw that God had placed the perfect gift into the hands, and onto the feet, of this child. 
In the Bahamas, a mother could not afford a Christmas gift for her son, so she told him to write a letter to God, asking Him for a gift. “Dear Jesus, please send me a black hat and a black shirt,” he wrote, and prayed for the gifts. Soon after, he was invited to an Operation Christmas Child event. He opened his box and was thrilled to find a black hat and a black shirt inside! He ran to show everyone the letter and the gifts, exclaiming that he didn't need anything else because God answered his prayer. 
In Colombia, Carlos and his mother heard of an event for children and walked for two days to get there. Because the boy was limping upon their arrival, the pastor was concerned that he had injured himself. The mother shared that he had a childhood defect in his feet that didn't allow him to walk normally. She said they had no money for the special shoes needed to help him. The event began, and when the Gospel was shared both mother and son gave their lives to Christ. Afterwards, the children were each given a shoe box gift and a countdown took place … ‘3-2-1’!! When the little boy opened his box, there was a pair of orthopedic shoes in his size sitting on top! He left the event with new hope spiritually and physically. 
 “I got what I badly needed, a box with shoes and socks! My shoes have worn out and I have no socks. The box was so meaningful to me. I cannot say how much I thank you...” - Shoebox recipient in Indonesia 
“One young girl really wanted to have someone that she could exchange letters with, and had been praying for a pen pal. When she opened her shoebox gift, there was a letter from a girl about her age. With tears in her eyes, she excitedly told me that God had answered her prayers.” - Elementary school teacher in Latvia 
 "We recently went on a mission trip to Ukraine where a pastor showed us a stack of OCC boxes in his church that he would be distributing in an upcoming kids camp. We later found out that he had received a box when he was younger. That box was what got him going to church regularly. He is now the pastor of two little churches." - Jessica, OCC fan
A boy in a slum area of Venezuela arrived at an OCC gift distribution with an old baseball glove tucked under his arm. He told a volunteer, “I wish there was a new glove in my box.” He opened his gift to find a new glove! It was the first time the national OCC team had seen a baseball glove in a box. At the same distribution, a little girl who was a dancer got ballet shoes, a tutu, tights and a tiara in her box.

It brings tears to my eyes to read stories of how God has used these small gifts to change the lives of children. You can find even more stories like these by scrolling through the Operation Chirstmas Child facebook page.

Do you want to participate in Operation Christmas Child this year? There is still time! Collection week is November 18-25, so you still have a week to do your shopping and packing. Go here to find a drop-off location near you. Here are instructions for how to pack a shoebox. Or you can build a box online.

If you print up a tracking label online Operation Christmas Child will even tell you what country your shoeboxes are going to! Last year our shoeboxes went to Togo. I look forward to learning the country that the shoeboxes are going to this year.

2 comments:

Janie said...

Great job! What an awesome way to teach your kiddos about generosity. Love it!

Tonya said...

Great boxes! Our church is going a collecting them this week. We packed the boy one with all sorts of cars and trucks. The girls in Lisa frank :) its so bright and fun.

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