Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Operation Christmas Child in the Baltic Nations

This is a part of the world close to my heart for it is where my mom is from. The Baltic nations are generally not what we think of when we think of Operation Christmas Child.. we usually think of impoverished children in Africa, children in the deep Amazon rainforests, in Islamic nations, or war torn areas... but OCC makes a HUGE difference in the Baltic Nations of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia where for decades under Soviet control they could not worship freely.

Now, Operation Christmas Child is partnering with churches throughout these nations to share the love of Christ! The below quote is from OCC on facebook and I had to share:

A Christian boy in Lithuania invited several of his classmates to a distribution through the Friend-to-Friend program. “My friends were glad and thankful for the invitation,” he said. “Now I can seriously talk with them about my faith. Jesus is so good to everyone. My friend found five toothbrushes in his box, and there are exactly five people in his family. The Lord blessed not only my friend but also his household.”
Our God is SO faithful in the distribution of these boxes!

I remember it was shortly after I began volunteering that I found a video of the VERY FIRST Greatest Journey graduation in Latvia and in all of Europe... it blessed me then, and perhaps it will bless you now.

I wanted to share just more stories from these nations because God IS working.

One family in Estonia had major financial problem and tough times. The mother had no work and father`s salary was 2000kr ($182 US Dollars). There were 3 little children in the family. It was Christmastime, but they had no money for food or for presents, which left the parents depressed. Their family was invited to the church where an OCC distribution took place. The family was amazed that each of their children got a shoe box gift. Now, 7 years later, these children are Christians and work for God`s Kingdom. They are also part of the OCC distribution team. They thank and praise God for what He has done for them. These gifts were a big blessing to a lot of families.
And here is part of a newspaper story on a family that MET the recipient of their shoebox in Estonia! (read the whole article at

For one Worthington family, the importance of Operation Christmas Child became very personal when they had the opportunity to meet one of the recipients of their shoebox gifts this past summer. George and Paula Wolyniec and their sons, Patrick and Oliver, were visiting relatives in Poland and made a side trip to Estonia.

“When Oliver was 6, both he and Patrick packed boxes to be sent overseas, and I included pictures of the boys with our address on the backs,” explained Paula Wolyniec about how the relationship began. “The following March, Oliver received a thank-you from an 8-year-old boy in Estonia, one of the Baltic republics of the former Soviet Union. We were puzzled at first, because we didn’t immediately make the connection, but when we figured out what Raul had thanked Oliver for, we were amazed and excited to find out who had gotten the box.”

Oliver wrote back to Raul, starting a pen-pal relationship that has continued for more than seven years.

“The boys have sent letters, pictures and gifts back and forth during all this time, and several years ago, when we started to talk about going back to Poland to see George’s family, Raul and his mother, Anne, invited us to come and visit them,” Paula said.

The opportunity to make the direct connection came when the “Amazing” Worthington City Band — of which Patrick and Oliver are members — planned a July trip to sister city Crailsheim, Germany.
“At the end of that stay, the boys and I traveled to Poland by train, where we met George and had a wonderful time with his mother,” Paula detailed. “Then, because we were only 500 miles away, we flew to Estonia, where we were warmly met by Raul and his mother. Because of the correspondence between the boys, we felt very at home with them, and now we feel as though we have family in Estonia.

“They were very grateful for the original Christmas box, and we’re all very grateful for what has transpired since then,” added Paula, who also said that her family has been “blessed by the opportunity to participate in Operation Christmas Child.”

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