A stuffed animal, 2 rubber balls, 2 small trucks, a small Etch A Sketch, a whistle, plastic farm animals, sunglasses, pencils and pens, colored pencils, pencil sharpener, erasers, scissors, paper, 4 wash clothes, 3 bars of soap, 3 toothbrushes, flip flops, hat, bandana, and a collapsible drinking cup.
I love the videos of children receiving these boxes and the stories of the impact of these gifts, shown on the Operation Christmas Child page. Just click the link above and you will be amazed at the stories there.
The statistic that I saw this year that really stopped me dead in my tracks is on that page. 98% of these children have never received any kind of gift or present in their life. Not only that, most have never even seen simple toys like those small plastic farm animals I put in my boxes. So hard to comprehend this when children in our family - and in our community - have so many things.
Our family is really striving to cut down on the amount of THINGS that we give as gifts and instead are focusing on spending time together in fun activities. This has been a big hit with the kids and the adults have enjoyed having a reason to make time to be together. We have gone bowling, gone roller skating, visited the water park (more than once), had our nails done, gone fishing, gone to the video arcade..... you get the idea.
Three years ago, when Lucas died, our family was changed forever. We each have a much different perspective now on life in general. I don't take things for granted anymore. Time spent with each other is so precious now. We all hug more, laugh more and share more. We also cry more. Things like Operation Christmas Child touch us in ways that are deep and meaningful. Jesus is really the center of that change for us. Because of Jesus, we know where Lucas is right now and we know that we will see him again. The gift inside of that Operation Christmas Child box that is most important, is the booklet that will tell that child and his family about Jesus.
I wrote a message to these little boys on the inside of the lid of my boxes. It was simple. Jesus Loves You! And next to that, I penned the words, "I am praying for you". These boys will be too little to read those words, but I am trusting that some older person will share that message with them. I will be praying for these boys tomorrow when I take my boxes to the drop off location. And I will remember them in the days ahead. I have a spot marked in my Bible... 2015 - Four little boys in Kenya or Madagascar 2016 - Five little boys in South Africa. When I discover exactly where my boxes go this year, I will add that notation. I will not forget about these little ones.
There is so much need and it takes many people to make this Operation Christmas Child work. Even though it may be too late to pack a box this year, please go to that web site and look at the donation page. There are many ways to be involved. You can even create a box on line! Do this in honor of someone special in your life. Or in remembrance of someone you have lost. Do this to bring that incredible smile and shout of joy to one small child.
Jesus, thank you for Operation Christmas Child and all the people who work to bring these boxes to those in need around the world. Holy Spirit, remind us to be grateful for all that we have and to look for ways to bring the joy of Jesus to others. Jesus, even right now, bless those six little boys who will open these boxes. Thank you Jesus for the gift of Lucas to our family. Amen