Saturday, November 30, 2013

This Is The End (Of Vacation)

Sorry, the title is a really bad joke.  I didn't want to put "Operation Christmas Child & Tennis Tournament," because that sounds, like, amazingly boring.  In case you're wondering, This Is The End is an incredibly bad-looking movie made for adults.  I think it's one of those type of movies where the jokes are incredibly dumb, but in an adult-ish way.  This Is The End was theoretically worse because it involved the apocalypse, and so basically I'm imagining a bunch of supposedly funny men cracking adultly rude jokes all the while trying to escape an apocalypse.  Get the idea?  Okay, let's move on.  (Don't ask me how they actually got that movie into the theaters).

Well, guys, this is the end.  Of vacation.  I am really, really sad because at the beginning of the week seven days seemed like an eternity, and, well, to make a long story short, I found out that it wasn't.  Oh well--that's life.  We're little nothings that go around worrying about other nothings and finally realize that life is nothing, and then we become nothing (except Christians, who become *approximately* infinity times more awesome than they ever were on Earth).

^^Did that sound too, like, too cynical for a fourteen-year-old?  If so, fergeddaboutit.

Sometimes I wish I had the drive to finish my writing.  All this hullaballoo about how I'm going to be an amazing author, and how I resolve to work on my manuscript, and oh, guess what?  I'm still on Chapter Two. (But I make myself feel better because, like, Chapter Two is almost an eternity of pages.  I think later I'm going to have to cut it into two chapters)  But I think the characters are more interesting--let's see, there's a best-friend duo who are opposites except for the fact that they both like to argue!  The main character's a little more likable--she's funnier--even though her train of thought is totally fourteen-year-old Valley girl.  And this is, like, the second-and-a-half draft (because I never fully finished the second draft).  I'm really proud of myself for saying that in true author lingo.  

Oh!  And to the whole point of this post!

Operation Christmas Child!

If you DO not know what Operation Christmas Child is, you've come to the right place!  It's basically a Christmas gift-giving operation for children in underprivileged areas overseas.  People volunteer to fill shoeboxes full of small gifts (such as school supplies, mini stuffed animals, hygiene items, coloring books, etc).  They deliver them to eight giant processing centers in the entire U.S., where volunteers work to process and package the shoeboxes.  
My family packaged two shoeboxes, for a boy and a girl. But that wasn't all.  We're blessed to be relatively close to one of the eight centers, so my mum and I went to a processing center to help process and package things. 

It was A-MAZ-ING.  Like, really, really fun.  Even though checking for monetary donations, sorting inappropriate gifts out of boxes, and taping the boxes doesn't really sound like fun, it was.  (For some reason I like being in assembly lines.  It makes me feel productive).

The center was in a giant warehouse, and the volunteers had decorated it with Christmas trees and pictures of children receiving the gifts.  There were many other volunteers, and I could tell that some youth groups across the area had volunteered.  (Definitely doing it next year with my youth group).

And what's the experience without a couple pictures?

Ze warehouse.  There's a picnic area, for breaks, to the right (I had peanut butter and jelly!), and even though you can't see it very well, the processing section in the distance.  

The area surrounded by boxes is the place where they demonstrated what to do--"Orientation."

The processing table was really unique and really cool.  

My first job was the "financial donations searcher."  People aren't supposed to send money in their shoebox (it says very clearly on the directions) but apparently some didn't get the memo and sent money in their boxes.  It was my job to riffle through there and get it out.  I also made sure that the labels were on correctly--if they're taped in the middle, they'll get covered when the taper tapes them.  

After the financial donations searcher, there are two people who search the boxes for "inappropriate items."  For example, since in some of the countries, war is a commonly touchy subject, no war-related items are allowed.  Liquids aren't allowed (toothpaste is, but liquid soaps and lotions and shower gel and liquid glue aren't).  No Harry Potter or Pokemon items are allowed (neither Harry Potter nor Pokemon are exactly bad; they just convey a somewhat...iffy image.  I like both of them, however).  The inappropriate-items searchers also fill the boxes up with "filler items"--toys, thin books, etc.--when the donations are somewhat lacking.  There were even these little croc-type shoes, without the holes.  

The searched boxes then head on over to the taper, who tapes the boxes up and makes sure the barcoded ones ("Follow My Box") are properly scanned. 

 The hilarity of it was some people were over-generous rather than under-generous.  Okay, there were the boxes that only had pieces of paper in them (like, literal blank pieces of paper).  But mostly, we had to deal with overstuffed boxes, shoeboxes that were OVERFLOWING with items.  People included flip-flops, shirts, toys, school supplies, candy, stuffed animals--the list goes on and on.  It was thoughtful of the packer to include so much stuff for the child, and I'm very happy for the children who receive those boxes, but for us packagers--eck!  For a while, I was a taper, and I klutzily dropped an overstuffed shoebox on the floor--and, well, the child's shoebox is now a ramble-shamble of items.  Sorry, whoever's going to receive my helter-skelter-filled box.

And a couple of people were thoughtful enough to tape their boxes.  With masking tape.  And then the really, really generous people who even wrapped their boxes, in wrapping paper and everything.  Guess what we had to do?  Unwrap their beautifully packaged box. 

And the rubber bands.  I think Samaritan's Purse can set up a rubber band company and make a living off of those.  I must have collected ten thousand--only a slight exaggeration.  

The best part about it was how all these people--all of them volunteers--could come together under one name, Jesus Christ, and help spread His Message through something as simple as shoeboxes with gifts


That was last night.  Today?  We had a tennis tournament.

My poor brother.  He's twelve and he's slowly but surely getting better than I am at tennis.  (Let's face it: I've never been athletic and passionate at sports, and I never will be).  Today was a true test of his endurance, because he played TWO whole matches (not sets, mind you--MATCHES) and in both of those matches he went to three sets, so he played six sets.  Six sets.  That's more than what pro men's tennis players play every Grand Slam tournament.

Lucky me, I had a bye for the first round.  So I played only one match, and my match only went to two sets because I...beat the other girl, 6-3, 6-3.  *squeals for joy*  *thank you, Jesus!*

But you know what they always say: The more you win, the more you play. (actually, I just made that up, but it's true!)  

I have to play tennis tomorrow.  And guess what time tomorrow?  7:45.  Are they trying to kill me or what?!?!?!

Just kidding.  

But still, this is, like, entirely insane, because we have to go to church straight afterward.

And then I have at least two more matches after that, because I have doubles to play.  And then, like, what if I win?

The more you win, the more you play.

True dat.


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