Last spring I wrote about our church receiving humanitarian aid from America. To get all of the details about that, you can go to that blog post here. SIX TONS of humanitarian aid came in a couple of months ago, and just a few weeks ago we were able to begin distributing it. So much paperwork is involved with clearing customs that the humanitarian aid had to just sit in a storage unit and wait to be delivered.
Last week we had the privilege of giving about 400 boxes of clothing to our church. The rest was given to several handicapped organizations throughout Crimea, hospitals, and to the needy. Several boxes of things were even given to a family from a nearby village whose house burned completely down. The father was at work, the mother had gone to the market, I believe, and the two children, ages 5 and 2, were left home alone when an electrical fire started. The children got scared and ran out of the house, and I praise God that the mother did not lock the doors when she left and that the children were smart enough to run outside and not hide in a closet or under a bed. Here is a picture of that family on the day our church was able to load them up with clothing, shoes, and winter coats:
We opened our church doors for three days and allowed our church members to come sort through the clothing and take what they wanted. Each person had to bring their passport and were allowed to take 10 kilograms (22 pounds) worth of items, all free of charge. The limit was put to keep people from taking things to sell (and, yes, unfortunately, that does happen!). About half of those who came were visitors, mostly family and close friends of our church members. We encouraged our members to bring guests, but asked that they keep their visitors to a minimum, to keep the church from becoming chaotic. Several of the church leaders took turns "working" the tables, recording passport numbers (which is required by law), and weighing bags. I worked one of the days, on a nine-hour shift, and David worked a different day. Many people worked hard and gave of their time (all on a volunteer basis), and everyone left grateful. It was a very satisfying work, and I am honored to have been a part of the project. I am especially grateful for those in America who donated these items to help the people in our region. Even though most of the things were not new (though I did find a few things with price tags!), I was pleased to see that almost everything we received was only gently used and almost everything was still in great condition.
The most gratifying part to me, though, was setting aside children's and teen's clothing the day I worked, to be delivered to our orphanage. Here are some pictures of the happy recipients:
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! I am so thankful for each of you who read my blog and pray for this ministry. You are such a valuable part of what we do here!