Saturday, September 29, 2012
Again, Of Course
God did it again. There's no question that these Operation Christmas Child packing parties have stretched my faith in ways like no other, but year by year I'm learning to trust Him more and more. I don't want to ever take these miracles for granted but I want to expect them more and more.
Last night we had our first youth packing party and 70 teens joined by about 30 adults finished packing 3,483 boxes in about 2 and 1/2 hours. It was a time of blessing and a good chance to get ready for the larger crowd this morning.
Here is George, the truck driver who came to deliver our second truck this morning. He was scheduled to arrive around noon but instead he came at 10:30 and decided to wait until the first truck was more full before he pulled it.
When I talked to him at 11:30 there were 379 cartons on the truck with over 8500 boxes. George told me there was no way we would need a second truck. He said we'd never get enough boxes completed to fill the truck by 4:00. I respectfully told him he was wrong.
And he was. By 1:20 the truck was filled with 675 cartons containing 15,525 boxes. I told you so, George. And we were on to the second truck.
We had several visitors who drove quite a distance to our packing party and I was totally (and pleasantly) shocked when Will and Amy Shaw, my fellow Mid-Atlantic OCC Area Coordinators, drove in from Philadelphia! They left at 3:30 am and were leaving after the packing party to drive back home.
Amy Gibson drove in from Cleveland and even brought over 100 great balls to use as filler items. This was a great blessing, because I spent much of the day trying to ration the filler items and wondering if we would run out of them before we got to 20,000 boxes.
All day I sensed the prayers of the many that I knew were supporting us from around our region and even from around the country.
God sent us more volunteers than ever before--about 650 without counting team members and volunteers who didn't sign in at registration. The line moved steadily all day at an even pace and I actually enjoyed myself as I floated around from box folding to stocking tables to opening boxes.
Ironically, the only thing I didn't do all day was pack a shoe box.
I thought I had ordered 22,000 boxes, but I'm ashamed to admit that when the pallets arrived I never actually counted the cases to see if I received them all. I just assumed I had them.
When I was informed that we only had 14 cases of boxes left I told the volunteers to stop folding them because I assumed that meant we had 20,600 boxes folded and I didn't want to have folded boxes remaining when we ran out of items.
Imagine my surprise 15 minutes later when they told me the lines had stopped because there were no more folded boxes. How could that be when we'd only packed 18,500 boxes. I was totally confused but told them to quickly start folding boxes again.
It was only 3:00 and we had only packed fewer than 19,950 boxes when we ran out of white boxes. Now what?
I got the attention of all the volunteers and asked them if they wanted to stop or try to use our red and green GO boxes and they began chanting, "Red and green. Red and green."
So we grabbed some cartons of GO boxes and started wildly folding again. Meanwhile we scoured around for every plain shoebox we could find and pack. It was the crazy chaos I'd been hoping to avoid by ordering extra boxes in the first place.
Still, the volunteers hung in there and the crazy thing was that now we had tons of filler items that never seemed to diminish. The boxes were better filled than ever.
We'd scheduled the packing party to end at 4:00 pm and when that time came we still had boxes full of T-shirts, plenty of all the basic items (except soap) and many, many fillers. We did run out of stuffed animals but had enough teeny Beanie Babies to keep going.
But we made the decision to stop at God's amazing total of 21,106. I did feel bad about putting all those items back into the container when there were still boxes to fold and room on the truck but...
We stopped and held out our hands toward the truck to pray together over those boxes.
There were some "if onlys"--if only I'd counted the boxes when we received them was the biggest one of those. If I had, then maybe we would have had at least a few hundred more boxes on that truck.
Still, it was the greatest packing party of all. And still the wonder of God's goodness was just as fresh and marvelous.
Because He did it again, of course.
Posted by Kathy Schriefer at 7:40 PM