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My Operation Christmas Child Ecuador Distribution Trip Reflections

Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Distribution Trip

I tried to post while I was on my Operation Christmas Child Ecuador distribution trip (#OCCEcuador), really I did…

I wanted to post all the pictures I took…
I wanted to share all the emotions I felt…
I wanted to tell you about the faces I saw…
I wanted to recap the moments the kids opened the boxes…
I wanted to make you feel like you were on the trip with me…

but I couldn’t.

It was just too much.

First of all, I was just plain exhausted; I know I have no room to complain after what we saw there, but it’s just the God’s honest truth. The physical and emotional toll of 12 hour days with 3 distributions each day proved to be more than I anticipated and by the time we got back to the hotel and had dinner, I was ready to crash.

And yes, I did feel guilty about even sleeping in a hotel after some of the conditions we saw in Ecuador.


In fact, I couldn’t even talk without crying upon getting back on the bus after our very first shoebox distribution:
I felt guilty about not bringing more to the kids.
I felt guilty about swooping in and out of their lives so quickly.
I felt guilty about going back to my ‘normal life’ while they remained in the same circumstances (though after I learned further about the FULL scope of what Operation Christmas Child and Samaritan’s Purse does throughout the year to disciple and assist these families, my entire outlook changed – more on that later…)

but for now, back to my list…

Second of all, I was afraid I couldn’t do the experience justice. As much as I wanted to give you the play by play, moment by moment, I couldn’t. Not only did I not have internet access during the day, by the time I did get back to WiFi in the hotel, the thought of boiling down my 12 hours into just a few photo words and images seemed daunting.

So I waited.

And I waited some more.

But after sitting in the Miami airport for about 6 hours on my journey back home, I think I’m finally ready to share the essence of my trip. As I tried to re-cap the highlights in my own journal, this is what flowed from my pen:

* 5 Shoebox distributions in 2 days
* 1 church, 2 schools and 2 orphanages
* 725 shoeboxes handed out to children of ALL ages
* Traveled over 2 miles up a mountain on a bus (one of the few places in the world where you can do that!) and nearly flipped over on our way down (check out the video below)
* Walked on the Equator
* Ate 2 crepes in one meal (one sweet and one savory…of course I ate dessert first!)
* Tried new food (the shrimp ceviche and Aji sauce was my favorite!)
* Shared my testimony at an orphanage
* Learned Ecuador is the world’s leading exporter of roses
* Forgot all my Spanish once I arrived; remembered it as we were leaving
* Danced with clowns
* Held 3 babies I didn’t want to give back
* Bought local coffee and chocolate in a supermarket
* Used several public bathrooms without toilet paper (you have to pay for it there)
* Went through 6 major temperature swings in a day
* Cried… and laughed until I cried
* Successfully delivered the shoebox our family packed across the ocean to a precious girl named Stefania!

I’ll have much more to share over the coming days and months, including the full video that follows our shoebox from packing to hand off.

For now, I hope this provides just a glimpse into this once in a lifetime trip I got to take AND encourages each of you who packs shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child to know that your box makes a difference in the life of a child.

If you want to hear first hand the difference a shoebox can make in a child’s life, listen to this testimony I filmed in Ecuador:

That one box changes a life…and we may never know the impact on that child receiving the box this side of heaven.

And when I mentioned previously how I felt guilty that we were just dropping off a shoebox and leaving, I learned that the shoebox provides an entry point; most kids don’t even know they’re getting them when the come to one of the programs. The journey just begins with the shoebox, but the ministry continues long after. In the words of Amy (one of our trip coordinators), “We know that God takes a little box and does big things with it.”

And if you’ve yet to pack a shoebox, it’s not too late! @OCC_Shoeboxes are actually distributed throughout the year and can even be built online.

Stay tuned for more…


  1. Sami ~ What a unique and wonderful Christmas season we had this year… I enjoyed reading your reflections, and getting to know you. Hugs to you!

  2. Thanks so much Mary! It was such a treat to be able to take this trip with you too!