Tuesday, December 1, 2009

a weekend to remember

I've never been much for Black Friday shopping, but this past weekend, I did enjoy seeing all the full parking lots as we traveled along the almost empty interstates to reach Atlanta for our time in the processing center for Operation Christmas Child.

The processing center itself was quite exciting to see.  One of the first people to greet us as we came in the door was a young girl named Livia.  She is from the Ukraine (I think, or maybe Romania) and she told us the story of the shoebox she received as a child and how it changed her life.  Few things could underscore the importance of what we were doing like hearing a personal testimony of the power of a simple gift

After a short training session we were placed on the floor under the instruction of one of the red shirted ladies who oversee the process and answer questions and such.  The process is simple.  Each box must be opened and checked for money, then passed off to the next person to be inspected for inappropriate items before being taped and sorted by age and gender and then placed in shipping cartons.

At the insistence of my friend Amy, I spent some time doing each part of the processing.  I suppose it is good to see it from every angle, but I'll just go ahead and tell you that I am no good at the cartonizing end of the process.  Ronnie spent the whole first night doing it and from the looks of this picture, he enjoyed himself ... I can't say the same for my 15 minutes of trying to fit 14 boxes in every carton.  I didn't mind checking for money ~ to me that was the easiest part.  I liked inspecting the boxes except when they were too full and I couldn't get the items returned neatly to the box.  I spent a good bit of time taping the boxes closed. Now that it is all said and done, I'd say that inspecting and taping were my favorite parts of the process.

There are two great benefits that I am claiming for this weekend. 

First, I believe that I will be able to take what I learned from processing the boxes this weekend and use that information to do a better job packing shoeboxes next year.  I know more about what to pack and what not to pack and even got some ideas for things that I have never even thought about packing in a shoebox before this weekend.

The second benefit has nothing to do with the shoeboxes, it has to do with having fun.  It is rare that we get to spend time with our friends from church outside of church time.  I hope we can find more ways to get to know each other better in the future.

Some of the group worked on getting to know each other better by playing cards.  This group seemed to be enjoying themselves while Amy and I watched the games (cards and football).  Normally, I love card games, but I was happy to sit this one out and just relax.

I feel sure that we have begun a new Thanksgiving weekend tradition for our little group.  Hopefully, prayerfully, the group will grow, both in number and in less tangible ways as we serve together. 


Rie said...

So glad ya'll had a good time. Delia's would be one of the boxes that you'd never get fit back right! You need to get to know her so she can help more next year. She sent her name in and got a packet.

See you for sure next week!

Felicity said...

Sounds interesting, but what is Black Friday??

Jennifer said...

Felicity ... Black Friday, in the US is the day after our Thanksgiving holiday when millions of people do their Christmas shopping because stores offer really good prices. Many of the stores begin opening at 4 in the morning and people will stand in line for hours to get a good price on something they really want to buy for Christmas.

Felicity said...

Ooohhh! Thanks. BlackFriday sounds a bit ominous (to me anyway!