How to Send a 20-foot Container and Not Go Crazy….
Boxes. Totes. Purchasing. Receiving donations. Sorting. Packing. Itemizing. Applying value for each item. Numbering. Taping itemized list and box number. Zip-tying. Packing Truck. Driving Truck to Sacramento. Unpacking Truck into holding container. 94 boxes/totes later. All of these are awaiting to be packed on a 20-foot (or maybe 40-foot) ocean freight container which will then be shipped across the world to Madagascar.
That’s been our life for the 3.5 weeks following Christmas. In fact, Jamie and I were outside in my folk’s patio past midnight on New Year’s Eve (so technically, New Year’s morning) bundled up, drinking hot tea, performing some of these various tasks. I know… hold us down, we’ve become quite the party animals. To be honest, I got that out of my system a looonnnnggg time ago.
It’s been an accumulation of years in fact. We’ve been holding onto items since our wedding, nearly 11-years ago… always saying to each other, “when we send a container, we’ll send this or that to Madagascar”. However, 80% of what we packed in those 94 boxes and totes are not for us. They are for the Sarobidy Maternity Center or the Eden Reforestation Projects nursery’s or for the School in Mahabana or for a future Guesthouse which we’re increasingly becoming aware that we’ll need to have. By the way, if anyone has the gift of hospitality and wants to serve in Madagascar by running the guesthouse… let us know! Shameless plug.
Our fabulous sending church, the Free Methodist Church of Santa Barbara, graciously had a Christmas Giving Tree– we’re so incredibly thankful that people LOVE to give gifts and are humbled by their generosity! Part of the Giving Tree was directed to the Mahabana School– crayons, pencils, scissors, rulers, erasers, pencil bags, academic charts, a globe, manual pencil sharpener, and money to purchase notebooks, chalk, money to build student desks, a teacher’s desk, etc. All for a uber-remote fishing village on the northwest coast of Madagascar! If you haven’t heard, a ministry partner here in the States donated enough money to build a school in Mahabana… the people in the village provided most of the labor and have hired a respected teacher, Soa, to teach their children. This is the first ever-school in this remote village. For generations, children in this village have grown up illiterate or have been sent to the city which is a 3-5 day boat journey in order to receive an education at the expense of being separated from their families, sometimes for years at a time.
The second half of the Giving Tree was for the Sarobidy Maternity Center– things like alcohol wipes, bandaids, Tylenol, Tums, gloves, file folders for charts, stethoscopes, money for HIV, Gonorrhea, Chlaymdia and Syphilis tests, money for infant resuscitators, medical instruments, a medication refrigerator, pediatric scale, speculums, ultrasound gel, teaching models, file cabinets and storage totes to organize all items. Phew!
In addition, our same church family rallied and cleaned out their garages and closets and donated hand tools and power tools, toolboxes, gardening supplies, towels, sheets, pots and pans, silverware, and bikes (which Jamie disassembled!) All of these items will be used for the guesthouse and Eden Reforestation Projects nursery sites and employees. It really takes a village! We are humbled by the generosity of our church family at FMC and are so incredibly privileged to partner with others in this way in the work that God is doing in Madagascar. We look forward with anticipation to the ways that these items will bless the lives of others half a world away!
Amongst all of this, we managed to throw in some heavy medical books, kids books and seminary books as well as storage racks for us and a new couch (our first new couch in our married lives!) and a few recreational items for our family and others to enjoy. A few donated boogie boards, two paddle boards, a kayak and even some last minute windsurfers! Now we just need to make sure we carve out the time on that side for our family and friends to enjoy all these goodies!
With all the delivering of medical supplies and equipment, file cabinets, etc, we had a ton of boxes. Leave it to the kids to find creative uses for them, including sleeping!
You can imagine we were pretty stoked when 3 of the Westmont students that came to Madagascar in 2013 came over to our house and lent a hand in the numbering, zip-tying and packing the truck process! Thanks John, Taylor and Katie! Hannah, we miss you in Colorado!