Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Operation Christmas Child

Have you ever participated in Operation Christmas Child?  If you don't know what it is, it's a ministry that collects shoe boxes full of toys, candy, school supplies, and hygiene items and sends them to countries in the developing world.  These boxes are packed by individuals, groups, and churches and sent to Samaritan's Purse who distributes the boxes to churches and ministries who hold evangelism events for children.  In the past I've packed boxes and volunteered at sorting centers where boxes are prepared to be sent out.
 Siguatepeque, January 24th
On January 24th my church here in Siguatepeque, Ministerio El Shadday, The a team of people from the church lead the kids in song and a group of young people did a skit:

Afterwards a lady from the church explained the Gospel in a way that children could understand.
The kids waited with anticipation for the surprise they had been promised!
Finally it was time to hand out the gifts!

Various Aldeas, January 31

The next weekend I went with a team from my church to some rural communities (or "aldeas"  as they are called).  We loaded up in a truck, and I was pretty sure the truck was already full, but then we made a stop to pick up the boxes.  I looked on (with a bit of awe) as they carefully arranged the boxes in such a way that allowed enough room for people to still sit in the back of the truck.

The first place we went to wasn't too far outside of the city.  It was built into the side of a large hill.  The church was a simple building, bright and welcoming.  There were a few children there when we came, but more and more came while we set up and before the meeting ended the church was packed with children and parents.

 After some songs and a skit, he Gospel message was shared, and the children and parents listened with interest.  Many of the children indicated that they had accepted Jesus into their hearts and would like to go to the discipleship classes the church would be holding in the following weeks.

The children were so excited to open their gifts!

 We piled back into the truck and headed on to our next destination: a church an hour or two into the mountains.  The road was only one lane wide most of the way, very windy and hilly, and there were spots with lots of mud.  With every mile we went I found myself realizing more aspects of life that would be made difficult by such a distance from a town.

 The kids here were EVEN more excited to get gifts.  A teacher at my school later explained to me that people who live in towns so far out often send one person from the family to town ever week in a truck that goes into town once a week.  These kids don't grow up with a lot and getting a whole box of gifts and supplies is very, very special.

We went to a third church a little further on down the road.  It was such a blessing to see the smiling faces and see how much the gifts meant to the children and to their parents!
The music leader from our church was one of the people with and he used his talents to help entertain the kids while the program was being set up.
The kids were led in several songs with actions.  If you notice, the floor was not paved, but it was covered with pine branches which made the whole church smell nice.

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