Harvesting

img_0145  If you know me, you know how much I enjoy gardening. It is always fun to harvest what I have worked to grow but even if what I grow doesn’t turn out like I expect, I enjoy the process of getting into the dirt, caring for and waiting to see what grows. This past year I have spent much time getting into the dirt of learning Operation Christmas Child and Samaritan’s Purse, caring for the people that are in my geographic area teams and in the next few weeks, we wait to see what God will do with all the work we have done. img_0768Sometimes what I harvest looks different than what I expected. Like these purple beans, yet I found them to be just as delicious as “normal” green beans. 20151211_141423

Sometimes the harvest comes later in the season than desired, sometimes it is plentiful and sometimes quite sparse. Gardening reminds me that I have a job to do but that I have little control over the results. I am learning that same thing as I have immersed myself into this new (now not so new) job. I  have done all that I have been instructed to do, followed the guidelines, traveled across the country and now whether or not we harvest hundreds, thousands or hundreds of thousands of shoe boxes is out of my control. Our goal for the West Coast Region is 660,000 and our goal is to process 1 million at the Orange County Processing Center (in Costa Mesa, we still need lots of volunteers to donate 3-4 hours in order to process them all). Samaritan’s Purse hopes to bring in 12 million boxes this year! If you can figure out a good analogy to grasp a number that size, I would love to hear it. The only way I could grasp the 11 million number from last year was to divide it by 365 (days in a year) it came out to about 30,000. So every day of 2016 we had to give away 30,000 shoe box gifts(to children who had not yet received one)!

Here is a snapshot of my upcoming schedule. Please pray as God leads you:

Oct 30-Nov 5 hosting Elena Hagemeier. Elena was placed in an orphanage in Russia at the age of 8. At age 10 she received her shoe box and at age 14 was adopted to the United States. She will be speaking at CBU, Vanguard, Calvary Christian Santa Ana, Hope University, Orange Lutheran and a few more. If you have interest in meeting me and hearing her speak email or message back to me and I will give you dates and times.

Oct 31 we move our office to the Processing Center (on Michelson) so I can meet you for lunch across the street in the Mother’s Shopping Center. Let me know when, I would love to have some lunch dates!

Starting Nov 25, I work M-Sa (yes, 6 days a week) until Dec 17. This is processing season. It is kind of like Santa’s workshop so it is “all hands on deck”!!!

Then I will be off until January. This will probably be my last written post until January.  I will post some photos from the Processing Center. I hope to hear from you either for lunch, to meet up with Elena and I or that I will see you at the Processing Center.

Below is an email that I received this morning from Samaritan’s Purse; Franklin Graham. It didn’t transfer with all the pictures but the links are fun and they still work!

Finally, I am so thankful for you all. I don’t know how different this year would have been without your prayers of support but I am glad that I don’t know!

love you all,

Sandi

Together We Can Bless 12 Million Children
At Samaritan’s Purse, we are gearing up for our busiest Christmas season ever. As God provides, we are ready to deliver Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts to 12 million children living in desperate circumstances in more than 100 countries around the world. Millions of these gifts will be collected and shipped through Samaritan’s Purse offices in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States, as well as Christian partners in places from Germany to Japan. When Samaritan’s Purse first launched this effort, I never dreamed that God would use it to touch so many children around the world.
For over 45 years, Samaritan’s Purse has been working in the Name of Jesus Christ to help victims of disaster, disease, poverty, famine, and war. As we meet their most urgent needs, we want to tell them about God’s great love and His greatest gift: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
I’m sending this email to give you a glimpse of what God is doing through Samaritan’s Purse and our offices around the world. Thank you for your prayers and support. May God richly bless you.
Sincerely,
Franklin Graham
President, Samaritan’s Purse
Our Affiliates
Video
Remote Peru Receives the Gospel
An Operation Christmas Child shoebox distribution in a hard-to-reach community of Peru leads to a church plant and many children and families hearing the Good News of Jesus Christ for the first time.
Read Stories from Around the World.
The Greatest Journey Transforms the Life of a Girl and Her Family

Simran, 7-year-old from an Indian Hindu family, loved her shoebox gifts – especially the colored pencils and coloring books.

Read More …
Maria and a Cow Named Lula

A cute little stuffed cow named Lula was the most cherished gift that four-year-old Maria Fernanda Garcia found inside the Operation Christmas Child shoebox she received in Costa Rica in 1998.

Read More …
Vika’s Story: A Shoebox Recipiant Packs Shoeboxes for Others

Vika received a shoebox gift while living in an orphanage in Ukraine as a child, and now she packs shoeboxes to send to other children.

Read More …
Unexpected Gift

On December 26, 2014, something unexpected and wonderful happened to the Kulemba family of Malawi.

Read More …

Corrections…

My very intelligent and eagle eyed husband let me know that I neglected to put in the date of the speaker tour. I will have Jaki with me Sept 23-24. The first 2 speaking engagments which are in Temecula and Murrieta will be on Friday and the one in Moreno Valley will be on Saturday.

I will also have my wonderful husband proof read before I send. Once I finally get to writing, I neglect to proof it!

Thanks for your grace

Full Circle!

thanksA Full Circle Speaker in Operation Christmas Child language is someone who received a shoe box as a child and now shares how that box and the realization of Jesus’ love has changed their lives. I have the opportunity to take Jaki Steward around the Chino/ Murrieta/ Moreno Valley area this coming week. Below are the times and locations in case you would like to attend:

  • 1:00 – 2:30 Rancho Community School, Temecula Friday Sept 23
  • 4:00 – 6:00 Gateway Nazarene Church,  Murrieta Friday Sept 23
  • 9:00 – 12:00 Moreno Christian Assembly, Moreno Valley Saturday Sept 24

I will also be taking another Full Circle Speaker around to local Colleges during the first week of November. I am unsure of which schools and times but I will inform you as I find out.

here is a link to hear about  Jaki  http://player.ooyala.com/iframe.html#pbid=fd11e2c5b057488ea2f8ab231c87c6d1&ec=UwZXVzdjqLRuCf5o20YFWyrbUfrF18kF&options[autoplay]=true&docUrl=video.samaritanspurse.org/oc-150411_full_circle_promo_jaki_steward_st_mix-m4v

Jaki’s Story

Here is Livia’s story college tour speaker

http://player.ooyala.com/iframe.html#pbid=fd11e2c5b057488ea2f8ab231c87c6d1&ec=AxY3lzdTolAHtW6gFtIIFS9YnplIBD-p&options%5Bautoplay%5D=true&docUrl=video.samaritanspurse.org/livias-shoebox-story

From here you can find many other amazing stories

Home

I am not a statistics person but sometimes they do help me to understand numbers which are too big for my brain. So here are some stats for you:

Every Minute

  • 19 children hear the good news of Jesus through Samaritan’s Purse
  • 5 children enroll in the 12 week study called The Greatest Journey
  • 2 children give their lives to Jesus

As opposed to every minute

  • 14 children lose their lives to HIV
  • 12 children die of malnutrition
  • 4 children are sold into slavery

There are currently over 2 billion children under the age of 15 in the world! Samaritan’s Purse is dedicated to reaching over 11 million this year with shoe boxes and an opportunity to learn about Jesus. If you had to give away 11 million shoe boxes you would have to give 30,000 boxes away each day of the year. WOW!

You can volunteer at the processing center this year and get a glimpse of what it takes to get 11 million boxes to 150 different countries. Go to occvolunteersignup.com to find a time and day that works for you. If you want to work while I am there sign up for an evening shift!

Finally, Jon and I had a truly amazing time in Alaska. He planned the perfect trip and without a glitch we  went from plane to train to bus to ship! Here are a few photos

One of the things we kept hearing while we were in Denali was, “Is Denali there today?” I know what they meant but a question like that bothered me because, well, the highest peak in North America at about 20,000 feet is not going anywhere! But I started thinking how often I wonder, “Where is God?”. And like Denali, God is always there and when I don’t perceive His presence, when life/ clouds obscure my view, when I need to just travel a bit further to see Him; He is always there. The Israelites experienced 400 years of silence from God, but they didn’t lose sight of him because they told the stories of His work. It is important for us to tell each other ways we see God working. Someone who is not “feeling” God’s presence may benefit from hearing your story. Feel free to share your God stories with me and the few of us who read these posts. God is always at work, but we often miss it. Praying that we all will see what God is doing through and around us!

I am thankful for how ever God leads you to pray for me, the family and Samaritan’s Purse

“The Busy Season”

 

I kept hearing about how we were in the “slow time of year” during my first 6 months of being here. I didn’t necessarily think it was slow. I have been able to keep myself busy with to-do’s from 7-4 every day. But… today I looked at my to-do list and saw that I had only completed 2 of the items on my list and it was 5 hours into my day!!! I think I am a pretty organized person but being constantly “interrupted” by requests and needs of others has me re-thinking by organizational methods!

Last time I wrote, I mentioned that I would be taking Jaki (a 20-something who received a shoebox when she was in an orphanage in Guatemala) around to several churches in the Riverside, San Bernardino areas. I am excited to do this and will be with her from Sept 22-24. She is young and excited to see California. She lives in Maryland and has never been to the West Coast. I am secretly hoping for a free couple of hours to whisk her to the ocean and then back to finish her speaking engagements! We will be in Temecula, Chino Hills, Ontario, Moreno Valley and Palm Desert; if you feel the urge to drive out to any of those areas to hear her, let me know and I will give you the time and address.

Due to Matt’s (a coworker here in the office) illness his responsibilities have been divided among the rest of us. This means that I will get to host another Full Circle speaker during the week of Oct 30-Nov 4. Below is her video. Her name is Elena and she was born in Russia. I will be taking her around to Universities and High Schools in our area!  I would love to have any of you pop in to one of her speaking engagements and I can let you know her schedule once it is completed.

http://player.ooyala.com/iframe.js#ec=tocHVzdjrTVZuwiswvjosoM-epOYNNyk&pbid=fd11e2c5b057488ea2f8ab231c87c6d1

While my daily schedule is FULL, I don’t have much to write you about, so my posts may become less frequent or I may just send a video or two that I think is inspiring. I am still seeing God work daily in big and small ways. Today I was looking at a relatively new team leader and knew that he needed some support. I did not pray for him to get a prayer support person on his team but I wished I had! I thought about it and thought, “I will add that to my prayer list for him”. He just emailed saying that a gentlemen contacted him and wants to join the team as prayer support! Isaiah 65:24 says,  And it shall come to pass that, before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.

Ephesians 3:20 says that God is the one who can do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine, and I feel like I saw God do this on our mini family vacation. (The picture on the top is from this vacation) We were blessed to be in an incredibly beautiful home in Big Bear for 3 nights. All of our kids were able to join us and few of their friends joined us too.  It was a memorable time with the kids and Jon. Vacations with adult kids is a good thing!!!

Finally, Jon and I leave for our long awaited Alaska Cruise on the 1st of September! I am beyond excited to spend 11 days with him in the beauty of Alaska.

Below are a couple more links to great videos. As we get closer to Shoebox collection time, let me know if you have interest in packing a shoebox, volunteering at the Processing Center, volunteering at Voyager’s drop off location, or if you know of someone who needs a temporary part time job as we do hire for the processing center which is from approximately Nov. 21- Dec 17. I would love to have some familiar faces come through while I am working!

Love to you all,

Sandi

 

Light for Malawi

Forgotten

The Latest with Sandi

On Monday I will be leaving for what I believe will be my final trip, for work, of the year. I’m doing a little happy dance at the prospect of being home for an extended period of time. This final trip is to Asheville, North Carolina. We will be at The Cove. If you do a computer search for Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove, you can see the beautiful surroundings that I will be enjoying. I am hoping for some free time to enjoy God’s creation.

In September I will be hosting a “Full Circle Speaker”. I will have the honor of taking Jaki around to several churches in the desert area where she will tell her story.  She received a shoebox as a child. You can see her story here http://video.samaritanspurse.org/oc-150411_full_circle_promo_jaki_steward_st_mix-m4v/

I cannot tell you how thankful I am for your prayers. I have truly seen God answer prayers and felt his presence these past 7 months. This month I was able to participate in a women’s Bible Study called, Scouting the Divine. In this study Margaret Feinberg seeks to understand God through learning more about farming, raising sheep, growing grape vines, keeping honey bees…  and how these practices relate to so many of the stories in the Bible. In one of the chapters, Margaret asks the shepherdess why she threw the goose eggs into the river. She explained that the goose had been sitting on eggs which would never hatch as they were not fertile. It reminded me of a chicken that we had several years ago. This silly chicken would lay eggs and to the same thing… sit for days, desperately hoping to hatch her eggs. She would sit there at the expense of her own health. If I did not take the eggs from her, she would get skinny and sick. Margaret pointed out how we BROOD over the unfulfilled desires and the hopes of somethings which were never meant to be fulfilled. We must get off that nest and allow God to lead us to his dreams and plans for us. I loved this illustration. That BROODY hen caused me such grief and frustration. She could not see that each time I chased her away from her nest, stole her eggs and barred her from entering her coop that I was trying to help her. As I read this story, I had to ask myself what I was holding onto and brooding over and why I wasn’t trusting my good, heavenly father.

Things to pray for:

  1. My time with Jaki and the people who will hear her speak.
  2. An Orange County location for the processing center (from the day after Thanksgiving until the week before Christmas, I will work many hours processing donated shoeboxes. When a Processing Center is located too far from our homes we are asked to stay in hotels which really doesn’t sound fun to me!)
  3. The shoeboxes that are being handed out as you read this! Each child will hear about Jesus’ love for them and have the opportunity to join a 12-week Bible Study. Do you realize that with 11.2 million shoeboxes to give away this year, that on average there are 30,000 boxes given each day!

As I have this last 5-hour plane trip, know that a portion of my flying time is spent praying for you. If I can pray for you, please feel free to send me an email.

To God be the glory,

Sandi

PS… at some point I will start pretty-ing this up. It looks a bit boring! I’m sure it is not as hard as I think it is.

 

 

One more thing…

So sorry, in my haste I forgot to mention that I will be going to Calvary Chapel Fullerton (2311 e. Chapman, Fullerton) on Sunday, the 17th.

Alex N. from Rwanda will be sharing his testimony at the 9:00 & 11:00 services. If you plan to go or would like more info let me know. You can view a snippet of Alex’s story below and there is a link to many other stories…

ALEX’S STORY

Alex’s Story

MANY OTHER STORIES

Operation Christmas Child

 

Sandi’s Quick Note

Not much to say… since I returned from my quick trip to Hawaii the biggest event was the passing of our dog.

These are pictures from her last day with us. It was a day that tested my faith. We knew that we needed to put her down but none of us wanted to do that. On Friday night I felt like God was telling me to just ask Him to take her and to have the kids ask for the same thing. I had no problem asking for that but was afraid to ask the kids to join me in that prayer. I didn’t trust that a) God would do it and b) that if He didn’t take her that He could still use it to increase their faith. But I followed what I felt like God was whispering to my heart and we prayed. Graciously, she died in the night with Alex and Hunter by her side. At 2:00 in the morning we thanked God for the gift she had been and the gift of taking her from us.

Because I don’t have much exciting news, I am posting an excerpt from Steven Chapman’s book, A Dad’s Guide to Praying for His K

What Is Effective Praying?

James 5:16 says, “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” Next to the word “effective” in my New American Standard Bible, there’s a reference to Genesis 18:22-33. That Old Testament passage reveals what “effective praying” is by sharing how Abraham questioned God multiple times in an effort to save the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham asked God if He would save the cities if 50 righteous people were found there. When God agrees, Abraham dropped the number to 45. God agrees again, and Abraham respectfully went for 30, then 20, and finally 10 righteous people. God agrees to not destroy Sodom and Gomorrah on account of even 10 righteous men. Unfortunately, God must not have found 10 righteous men because He got Lot and his family out and then destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19).

Pull quote

The point of this well-known story of Abraham’s repeated appeals is that effective praying has much to do with not giving up and being willing to go back to God with the same request over and over. To some of us, it may seem rude and feel awkward to approach God repeatedly about a matter, but we can take comfort in seeing that God wasn’t offended by Abraham’s recurring request. In fact, He seemed to willingly hear his humble and respectful servant each time Abraham asked.

If a strong urgency about praying for your children has gripped your heart and mind, don’t shrink back from taking your concerns to the Lord and doing it often. And don’t hesitate to keep asking Him for the same thing. The freedom He’s given us to approach Him frequently is what encouraged me to say the same or similar prayers to Him every Wednesday. I often thought of Abraham’s relentlessness and the widow’s persistence [from the New Testament] as I prayed, and they gave me the courage to keep repeating my petitions until they were answered and then continue on with new ones.

 

I hope you are praying for people in your life. I often pray for you while I am hope and always on trips, I have your names listed and I sit in the quiet of my room and bring each of you before the Lord. I don’t always know how to pray. I know to thank God for you and I know that He knows what is happening in your lives and he knows what you need.

I am off to Charlotte NC tomorrow then home until I go to North Carolina again in August.

thankful for each of you

 

Finally an update on Paraguay

if you scroll over the above photos you will be able to read captions

Hi friends!

I have been so excited to share with you some of my trip to Paraguay. I came home to lots of work to get done before I left for Hawaii. I returned yesterday so finally,  here is a glimpse…

The sunsets over the Paraguay river were beautiful. The land you can see is Argentina. The beauty of the sunsets and the comfortable accommodations were a stark contrast to the many villages which we were able to visit and deliver small gifts which held great potential for hope and change.

image001.jpg

While many of the areas we visited in Paraguay were poor, this one particular Chaco village of Cerritos rivals some of the most abject poverty that I have ever seen. Home were constructed of scrap metal, tarps, tires, and spare wood planks. The floor was dirt, and the stove was a hole dug into the ground with a teapot suspended over a campfire. The children were dirty and covered in grime and lice and mosquito bites. The pastor told me that one of the homes has 15 people living in it. It was smaller than a bedroom. After singing together and hearing the Gospel shared with them from the Korean missionary pastor who planted their church, the children anxiously peeked inside their boxes, sniffed the bars of soap, squealed at the pencils, and then clutched the boxes tightly against their chests and ran home before anyone could take any of their new treasures away from them. This was the scene repeated over and over again as we were able to deliver gifts.

image002.jpgimage003.jpgimage004.jpg

My favorite distribution was one where we were able to deliver boxes to a church which actually was started by a distribution 12 years ago. This is a thriving church and has become the influencing factor in the neighborhood. As we looked at the building we noticed that they were adding on a room. We were told that there was a great need for a youth room as the teens in the village needed a place to study and hang out. These are the same teens that were just youngsters 12 years ago and remained involved and true to God’s word and work. This is a village where the children do not even speak Spanish, they speak Guarani (an old national language spoke by many of the uneducated), where the average age of pregnancy begins at 14 and poverty is rampant. Now the church is their home, haven and hope.

 I am reminded of Romans 10:13-15:

13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

Thank you for continuing to pray for these kids who have received boxes. Most of them are currently going through The Greatest Journey (12 week follow up Bible Study). Some of these churches have waited years to receive shoe box gifts. Before they could receive them they have to work to create a support system for the many families who will now want to know more information and who will seek spiritual understanding from the local church. These shoe boxes open doors for the local church to get teacher training, to invite the community to come for a celebration and hear the gospel, to have a 12 week follow up Bible study with a graduation for the family to witness where they too will hear the gospel. The ripple effect of this small gift is far reaching!

In 2 weeks I am off to Charlotte NC for more training. After  6 months of so much travel and quite a bit more before the end of the year, I am wearying of it a bit. Pray for stamina and finding my “travel rhythm”.

As always, know that I pray for each of you (especially on long plane flights, in crowded airports and quiet hotel rooms) and you can email me if you have questions or would like to know more about the trip. My email is kidsarhh@yahoo.com

Grateful for you!

Paraguay

 I am trying to get photos uploaded to this post but internet is slow so I may need to send them in an email. Today we went to a public schools which would be closed by any state review system that we have, but the kids were healthy, happy and learning. Yes, there was a machete on a chair in the corner and the desks had gapping holes in them and the kids were drinking Coke at lunch and several did not have  shoes but they spoke 2 languages fluently, were working on their third and they were memorizing Romans 6:23 and John 3:16 in their public school. So these kids have received their shoeboxes and now are enrolled in a 12 week study of Jesus’ life. Tomorrow we will get to see 2 distributions of shoeboxes and kids hearing the Good News of Jesus.

Tonight at the hotel a Paraguay national who is helping with security and currently lives in the US (his daughter works at the PY embassy in DC) tried to explain to us how “important” the support is that they receive from shoeboxes to bible curriculum. The state provides little to nothing for the schools. Education is not of importance in comparison to other social, economic… Issues. So having a class set of books, even Christian material, is highly valued. In addition it is inSpNish. Kids learn Guarani for their first 2 years at school and then Spanish so this material supports their Spanish reading and writing.

I played soccer with the kids and our translator. Yes, really I did! And had my heart captured by a sweet girl named Cynthia.

Im typing on my phone so please forgive the mistakes. I will try to load pics and send. This either way. We have had little sleep but I’m feeling great and I’ve had lots of time to pray for each of you individually.

So thankful for you all. Our devotional leader this morning prayed specifically for all the prayer warriors back home who are covering us and the children in prayer and then he prayed for protection and blessing for all of our families. I love that the leadership realizes that our presence here comes at a cost to our families and we couldn’t do it without them and prayer support.

Love you all

sandi

Zambia

I had scoured the internet for some pictures of the Zambia trip and couldn’t find any to include in my letter and then these came in just now!

Zambia.jpgHere are some children in Zambia waiting to hear the gospel and receive their boxes.Zambia boy.jpgA young boy receives his box!Zambia moms.jpgMoms and older girls watch and listen from outside as boxes are distributed and the word of God is shared!