Shoe Box Distribution 2019

One of the highlights in the Mercy in Action diary is the Christmas container to the Philippines. In 20 years we’ve never had a serious problem with either our paperwork or our shipping company and for that I’m immensely grateful. It always goes pretty much according to plan; except this time. We still don’t know quite what went wrong but went wrong it did

Promised and estimated dates of arrival came and went, and with each one the hope of handing out hundreds of lovingly packed shoeboxes in time for Christmas diminished. Eventually ‘plan B’ came into action and the Cebu staff and volunteers were dispatched to the busy malls to buy more gifts which were purchased and wrapped faster than you can say Jack Frost.

  
The Christmas parties went ahead and everyone had presents to take home, but of course they knew that the ones they really were looking forward to were stuck somewhere between Singapore, Hong Kong and Manila, depending on who you believed.

Eventually though the container boat docked in Cebu and a few days later the cargo was delivered and unpacked. Fast forward a few days more and John and I also found ourselves back in Cebu. Santa may have been taking a well earned vacation but his trusty helpers were checking lists over and over to make sure every one of the 425 children on our schooling programme as well as hundreds more throughout Cebu and Bohol would get their belated gifts.

By the weekend we were ready and over two mornings the children, each dressed in their Sunday best, gathered for their second Christmas. The winners of the talent shows performed their acts again, songs were sung and food was eaten.

The moment they had waited patiently for had arrived and I had the joyous task of handing over every box. The excitement in the room mounted as name after name was called, oohs and ahs as some children received huge boxes ; we always say our sponsors have the biggest feet ever! It’s worth mentioning that there is no envy apparent over size of the box. They all know that the families will share the contents with their wider family and neighbours.

Each child took their parcel back to their seat and rattled and poked it but none were opened until the word was given. They waited patiently until each box was with its owner…..

…..a last minute panic while misplaced boxes were located after being put in the wrong pile, and then a frenzy of unwrapping.

 

Words don’t do justice to the joy expressed on every face. Each card read, items carefully removed and examined, tins of corned beef exclaimed over. Novelty pencils shown to each other, sweets unwrapped and eaten and a buzz of laughter and chatting. So much joy over items we take for granted. Then it all got packed again to take home and reopen with all the family. The boxes lifted high onto their shoulders they made their way out to the gates where mum or dad was waiting to take them home.

Yes, Christmas came late, but in the end it didn’t matter. All knew they’d been remembered and that somewhere, 7,000 miles away, someone had packed a box with love, and the love hadn’t spoiled in the waiting.

 

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