Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Gift wrapping for Heifer International

What’s a memorable pre-Christmas or Advent experience for you? Here’s a recent one for me and a few of my best friends. This past Saturday a group of us from The Oasis, a new Presbyterian Church in West Omaha, were joined by some other friends in a service project to benefit Heifer Project. Scheel’s Sporting Goods at Village Point Mall was delighted to have our group offer free Christmas gift-wrapping, in exchange for donations to Heifer Project, a really great organization that provides animals for food and agricultural purposes in poor countries and regions of the world. Now picture this. There we are gift-wrapping shot-guns, archery sets, basketballs, bison jerky, and for one family about $800 worth of winter coats. For the family buying coats, I was told it was their gift theme of the year. It took a while to gift wrap $800 worth of coats, so they told us they were headed for the nearest happy hour, till we were done!

In the madness of gift-wrapping thousands of dollars worth of Christmas gifts, I heard this story from one of our wrapping team members. She said her husband went down to Pascagoulah, Mississippi in September to help out with disaster relief following Hurricane Katrina. He expected to be there maybe ten days. Well, he stayed about two weeks and realized the clean-up job was enormous. So, he drove home to Omaha and asked his church and others to rent a Bobcat, a small earth moving piece of equipment,
so he could go back to help out. In no time at all several thousand dollars was raised; this man loaded the Bobcat on a flat-bed; and he headed back South. He got good as an operator of his Bobcat, working for two and a half months to clear out destroyed homes and up-rooted trees so other relief workers could do their jobs. He was having so much fun, his wife headed down to Pascagoulah for a couple of weeks to help out also. She said it was quite a sight getting there, because she was in a line of motor homes, trucks, semi-trailers and other vehicles. Most were church groups like, Baptist Men on a Mission, Presbyterian Disaster Relief, Methodist Relief Workers, and Catholic Charities.
What a sight! It reminds me of the prophet Isaiah, when he says to the Israelites in exile, that it’s time to prepare a way in the wilderness for God, to build a highway of hope for the people to return to Jerusalem. (Isaiah 40: 3-4) Building a “highway of hope” takes hard work; but it can surely be satisfying After the man with the Bobcat returned home, he told his wife it felt strange to be out of a job. I wonder! I bet other jobs will come…


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