Ever year Samaritan’s Purse has a outreach ministry called Operation Christmas Child. This is where you can pack a shoe box for a specific age and gender with fun things and send it somewhere in the world to bless another child for the Holidays. Way back in November I called a pastor here in Jinja with Samaritan’s Purse to find out about the possibilities of our family getting to help pass out shoe-boxes in the area. I was very excited at this possibility as I have grown up stuffing shoeboxes. The boys always loved going and shopping for the little boy their age and the one little girl that we chose to add. The last couple of years we have even tracked them to see where they ended up. Much to my surprise, I found out that these boxes really do not reach their destinations until the Spring of the next year. The pastor took my information and months passed us by.
In the meantime, God appoints our family to help a village church in the area. Doug will do some preaching and I have taken on helping with the kids and began a ladies bible study, that by the way has really taken off, Praise The Lord. We have gotten to know and love these people and these kids. We found out several weeks ago that Mutai kids were getting Christmas boxes. YAY!! I was thrilled that now we would even get to experience this with our village kids. The lady over this at the church requested 40 boxes for the Mutai children and we received 46. This past Sunday (Palm Sunday) we were able to participate in giving this blessing to our kids at Mutai. I took lots of pictures and I have attached some to share, but I was a little overwhelmed after the fact. Word had gotten out that the kids were getting boxes at Mutai and our little village church was packed! Over half had not been since we had been going. I usually only have about 20-25 in my children’s class. (you can see where 46 boxes seemed plenty). The truth of the matter is that 46 kids were overjoyed and about 40 went home empty handed. I was not sure how to process this in my head or my heart. My heart was joyful to be on this side at this time and then saddened that no matter how many boxes are shipped there will never be enough for all the kids around the world.
I am sure that every church does this in different ways and there are many stories of Joy that come with these boxes. Please do not think for a minute that I feel as though Samaritan’s Purse or those that participate have failed in any way, because that is not the case. I was just not as prepared as I thought I was to handle the reality on this side of the world. God is so good and He has already given ideas on ways, that at least in Mutai, kids going home empty handed might be avoided in the future. I look forward to seeing how other churches may handle this situation as it arises at most of them I am sure, no matter how prepared you try to be.
As I have tried to process all of this, I am brought to the realization, that in this season and always,the real gift is Jesus, and to so many that realization is lost. (especially to a lot of us in America). Those kids that came for boxes received the gospel twice, once in Children’s church and once in Doug’s sermon. The families that received boxes were blessed for sure but the gift that matters most was given to all. My prayer now is that some of those same kids come back over and over again, not because they might get a box but because they know they will get Jesus and for that I give God all the glory! Mukuma Yebazibwe! (Praise The Lord)