Last week we took in over 9,000 toys (who knew there were that many toys around?) and over the weekend, the toy sale was a big success. When all the dust settled, Ami and Tena had over $5,000 dollars to go buy new toys. Last night we spent about 4 hours sorting used toys from new toys and marking out all UPC codes on all of the toys. We also prayed over the toys, asking God to multiply the toys the way He once multiplied 5 loaves and 2 fish to feed 5,000 people. And then we all went home for a good night's sleep before the stampede today.
Anyone, regardless of economic status, can come get new toys. Ami refuses to refuse anyone toys because "You don't know their story. We give them Jesus and toys and let God take care of the rest". So, this morning people began lining up in the cold and in the dark around 6 a.m. When I arrived at the building at 8:20 there was a line of people! We didn't open the doors for the giveaway until 9 a.m.
I wasn't kidding when I said "before the stampede". It was amazing to watch today. People were arguing and pushing in line, much like a line in a kindergarten room. I kid you not, I heard these quotes:
"She cut in line...."
"That lady, she doesn't even have any children and she's here to get new toys!"
And, this was before we even let them in the building to fight over used toys that didn't sell during the toy sale!
When we finally opened the door, we had four lines going of people signing in. As the people signed in, we would find out the ages and genders of their children. Then they were allowed to look for 2 toys per child among the toys that didn't sell during the sale. While they were looking, our children would run behind a closed door and "shop". They would chose toys by age and by gender. When they had finished "shopping" they would go back in the main room and give the toys to the person as well as tell them about Jesus.
Within 10 minutes I had a woman return her bag of toys to me angrily and accuse me of short-changing her children. Since I really couldn't say "you get what you get and you don't throw a fit!", I took her toys back and found the specific toys she asked for. I figured I might as well make this an opportunity for telling her about Jesus. So, I returned with her new toys and gave her a hug and told her "Jesus loves you. Merry Christmas!" I'm not sure she knew what to do with that! ; )
Between this woman, the woman I had to confront (not once, not twice but FOUR times because she was taking too many things), and the people pushing and shoving in line, I was about done in! We had not even been passing toys out for 30 minutes and I was already losing my focus of why we do what we do.
I'm so thankful that God restored my focus. For each of those negative things, He gave me a positive that makes my heart sing and restored today as my favorite day of the year. In the hustle and bustle, I walked up behind my 10 year old friend, Rebecca, and heard her say "We do this because we want you to know about Jesus!" to a beaten and worn out man waiting patiently for his toys.
I saw a mom hug Ami on her way out of the building and say "Ami, thank you for doing this. I lost my job this week and I wasn't sure how I was going to provide Christmas for my kids."
When I blogged about Toy Time last week, I mentioned that every year we have a story or two to share. This story is my story of the year.... My almost 9 year old friend, Cassadi, was choosing toys for a mom whose husband had been hospitalized last week. Since he can't work, there is no money for this family right now. The mom came in hoping for a few little things to wrap up for her kids. Cassadi was able to give this mom a brand-new bike that had been donated for her little girl. Cassadi gave the lady the bicycle and boldly told her about Jesus~how He loves her and came as a baby to die on a cross for the sins of everyone. The lady cried and thanked Cassadi... Cassadi cried and hugged her... and all those watching cried because this is what it is all about!
It's not about adults acting like impatient children who can not wait their turn. It is not about selfish and greedy people snatching up anything they can hide in their coats or bags. It is not about unsatisfied "customers" who throw a fit when they don't get what they want. Amazingly, it's not even about toys. Instead, it is all about Jesus and making Him known by giving away some simple toys for needy families. It's all about Him and it's totally amazing!