Monday, December 24, 2007

Blessed Beyond Words...

Last Saturday, our church had our annual Toy Giveaway. We signed up 2000 kids for the giveaway. This is the 5th year that I have been a part of this even and it has grown substantially and become MUCH MORE organized over the years thanks to some great people in our church and volunteers that come to help every year as well.

This is what happens...flyers are mailed out, signs go up around the church and at busy intersections in town announcing the upcoming event. Parents(grandparents or guardians) have about 2 weeks to sign their kids up (so we know the age and gender of the child) and they get a ticket for each child that is color coded(which designates which of the 5 services they are to attend).

Then this past Saturday, we had 5 services(11, 1, 3, 5, and 7). For each service, the guardian and children go into the church for a 30 minute service that involved dancing, puppets, rapping, and other fun things this year. After service, everyone is lead to the "Toy Room" where each child that is in attendence and has a ticket receives a present.

The people are attracted because of the free gifts for their children, but they receive an even better gift when they sit through the service. I would say at least 700-1000 people were saved last weekend at our church. It is so rewarding, humbling, and amazing to see this event every year. Today there were at least 20-30 people at our church that came for the first time last Saturday.

This year, I was in charge of the "Toy Room". I had the BEST youth group that came to help this year from Dixon. They were willing to do anything that was asked of them and they did everything so well!!! Everyone coming into the our room was thankful for the message they had just heard, in the best mood, and appreciative of the presents that their children were about to receive.

Just as we were all getting in the groove of things and everything seemed to be going smoothly, "the enemy" showed up and tried to ruin it. We have a new young married couple that has just started attending our church. They have the CUTEST little boy that is 9 months old too. Anyway, they showed up to help last week and I was lucky enough to get them in my room. It was a great time that I could talk to them more and get to know them better. They had to leave a little early and all was well. About 30 minutes later the young man showed up and pulled me to the side. Long story short, $100 had been stolen out of his wife's purse. I was DEVISTATED hearing this. I felt so responsible because I told all the ladies where they could put their purses so they would be "safe". Only me and one other lady had put our purses in there but we didn't see anything missing out of our purses, so I apologized and I suggested that he go talk to our pastor. He turned and left, but I could tell something more needed to be done. I waited about 2 minutes and headed to find our pastor. As I turned the corner, my pastor was headed my way. He had just talked to the husband. However, it is no doubt that God is good. My pastor looked at me and shook his head and pulled out a $100 bill out of his pocket. He explained to me that not 2 seconds before this young man talked to him, one of the people out of a youth group volunteering donated $100 to the church. Pastor C told me to take it and give it to this young couple. I was so happy knowing that this couple's money would be replaced.

I quickly ran out to the parking lot and could not find the husband but I found the wife sitting in her car crying with their little boy. I knocked on the window and she rolled it down. I handed her the money, but she refused to take "my" money. I quickly explained that it wasn't my money and just to know that God was taking care of them. After a little more talking, she finally agreed to take them money and explained that this money was all the money they had for the week. We talked another minute and I went back in to work.

After a few more hours at church, we finished up a VERY SUCCESSFUL day and I went home to realize that I was missing some money from my purse too. However, it was only $20 and that won't keep us from eating this week.

I knew what to expect from last Saturday. I knew that the fact that most of these kids would be handed their presents and they would hug it tightly and would not open it because they want to save it until Christmas day due to the fact that this would be the only present they receive for Christmas. I knew that their moms, dads, grandparents, and other guardians would be thankful and happy to see their children so happy. I knew that the youth group that helped in my room would find a whole new meaning to what Christmas is all about and see it in a new light.

However, I didn't know that I would be dealing with "the enemy" first hand. I didn't know that I would see how God works and how His timing is amazing and never an accident. I have always known that my pastor is an amazing and generous man, but I didn't know I would see him giving out cash on this day. However, I walked away last Saturday learning something. The next day, my pastor and I briefly talked about the happenings on Saturday and this situation. I am pretty sure we know who helped themselves to money that did not belong to them. However, I also quickly realized that there would be no benefit of putting my focus on this person. I am very thankful that this new couple was at church this morning. I didn't know if this would turn them off to our church or church in general. Clearly it didn't.

Sorry for the long post with no pictures. I didn't have my camera that day, but I will try to find someone who did so I can get some pics to post.

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