Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Time with Family

We visited with my sister and my parents right after Christmas.  My parents moved into their new place just a few days before Christmas.  My sister and her family did a fabulous job in helping to arrange the furniture and unpack many of the boxes so that their place was comfortable (as much as could be when you were moving and there were still a LOT of boxes).

Their place is nice and about 20 minutes from my sister's house.  There is still a lot to be done, but it's a lovely place.  We enjoyed being able to see them and help a little bit.  I keep praying that God would bless them and their time in this new home.  Change is never easy.  I am thankful that they have friends there already.

We had a relaxing and fun time at my sister's house.  The kids had a blast playing outside - with pulleys, balls and more.

 I know this is fuzzy, but can you see the smile on my boy who has come so far that he was willing to do this - and loved it!

 We also exchanged gifts.  My Mom made quilts of various sizes for her grandchildren.

 Sometimes it's just fun to be silly with your cousin!
 Lots of ping pong too!

 I did not do a great job taking pictures.  I did however enjoy my time with my family.  And that is what really matters.
I am so thankful for my family!  I'm thankful that we enjoy being together and that there aren't awkward relationships.  God has blessed us richly!


Operation Christmas Child & Service project

Wanted to share some photos from our time at Operation Christmas Child.  This is such a wonderful experience!  I highly recommend it to anyone able to do it.  You need to be at least 13 years old and the reservations go quickly!  We called the day that the registration opened (I think it was Aug 1st) to get our group signed on.

There are 7 facilities in different states.  We are blessed to have 2 here in NC.  We drove to the Charlotte facility to work.  Since it was soooo close ... we made a stop by Ikea on the way.  LOL  What a fun store!

 We met some friends to work with again this year.  We started out in the training area, learning about the various steps in the process.
 From inspecting boxes to packaging, each person has a different role.
 We started out in an area where there were lots of extra things donated for the boxes.  More  boxes are filled with these extra things and brought to the stations.  If there is a shoebox that has to have something removed (ex. liquid items that can't be shipped), then more things can be put into the box.  Or if a box just has room for more things, there are options here to add.
 Met my long-time FIAR friend Bo and her daughter too!  Wish we had more time to chat - we'll have to plan that better next year.  :-)
 Lots of smiles because this really is a fun place to work.  Its neat to hear the stories of how the boxes have touched and changed people's lives!  Changed lives ... all from a shoebox!  God is good!
 My girl hard at work!
 A  picture of the "lines" where the boxes are inspected and then packed to be shipped.  The large boxes are labelled for age group (2-4, 5-9, 10-14) and gender.      
 Rebecca and I in front of the filler area.
 Loved seeing this in one of the boxes!  This is a book from our homeschool curriculum and I loved thinking about a little boy or girl in another country reading this sweet story.  :-)
 After working in the filler area for awhile, we then moved to one of the lines.  We again were given different jobs.  Some inspected boxes, others helped label boxes and some helped pack boxes.  This is also the area where boxes were scanned if the person sending it asked for a notice of where the box was sent.
 There is a list of things to look for that can't be included in the box.  Things are only removed if necessary and the integrity of the box is kept intact as much as is possible.
 The goal was to get at least 15 shoeboxes into each large shipping box.  The green and red "official" boxes sure were easy to pack!  It was challenging to pack the various sizes - kind of like working a puzzle so that you could maximize the space and the number of boxes!
 This is a view from the upper level of the warehouse floor.
Just getting ready to leave.  We had a wonderful time working and look forward to going again next year.  Roger was sweet to stay home with our younger children so that Rebecca and I could enjoy this day out.
All the volunteers are given an OCC shirt.
We treated ourselves to Olive Garden on the way home.  It was a long, fun and fulfilling day spent with people I really enjoy being with.
We also did a service project with our FIAR homeschool group.  This is one we have done for a number of years and it has worked well with the age range of our group.  We make fleece blankets to donate to children in a local shelter.  

 We also make cards to go along with the blankets.
 There is something for everyone and we end with a potluck lunch.
 Having done this for a few years now, more are comfortable with cutting and making the blankets and that is fun too.
 I love seeing the variety in all that is made.  I imagine it blessing so many children.
 We pray over the blankets and the people who will be receiving them.  I'm thankful we can serve our community in this way.
 I'm thankful for friends that are willing to serve.
I would love to find more projects that we can do throughout the year that are things a wide range of ages can do.  My youngest is a little challenging in some arenas.  *grin*  Anyone have any suggestions?