This is Sergei. He is our eldest son; just turned fifteen last month.
We adopted Sergei from an orphanage in Eastern Ukraine last summer. He's been home for a little over a year.
Every Christmas, our family and church participate in a program organized through Samaritan's Purse called Operation Christmas Child.
Each year in early November, we head out as a family for a shopping excursion. And our purchases are all chosen carefully and thoughtfully because these purchases will fill shoeboxes that will be shipped overseas and given to orphans and poverty-stricken children.
This has been a part of our family tradition for almost as long as Brad and I have been married - eleven years.
Here's where it gets pretty darn amazing...
Last year, as we got ready for our annual Operation Christmas Child shopping trip, we learned that our family had been impacted by this organization more than we ever could have guessed or imagined.
We found out that our adopted son, Sergei, had received a gift box through Operation Christmas child. Wow.
Suddenly the benefits of this program became so much more real to us as he told us about how happy him and his friends were to receive boxes full of gifts, how happy it made him feel knowing that someone cared for him and his friends.
So I write to all of you today, and I ask you to consider participating in this awesome, most blessed opportunity this Christmas. And maybe each Christmas hereafter, making it an important tradition for your Christmas celebrations.
You can go here to get the full details on how to participate as well as for ideas on what to include in your shoeboxes.
And, if I could offer a meek suggestion, could I recommend that you all purchase a shoebox-sized plastic Rubbermaid bin to send your gifts in? This type of a container can be reused by the family for storage and so would also be a gift in itself.
And I can guarantee that as you fill that shopping cart up with goodies, your heart will just about explode with joy. Mine does every year!
And if you submit your boxes using their online feature, you can actually track your box so that you and your kids can see where your gifts are sent.
Sergei gave a testimony this past week at our church as we are in the midst of promoting the shoebox collection at our church. There were some teary-eyes in the congregation. Never did they realize how far-reaching their gifts could be.
Now, go bless a little child (or two!) National collection week is November 14th-21st!