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Blessings

november 2013

O p e r at i o n B l e s s i n g I n t e r n at i o n a l

operationblessing.org

Beads of Blessing As simple beads are fashioned into jewelry, moms are rescuing their children from the grip of starvation { page 8 }


Bill with Operation Blessing’s Hunger Strike Force fleet of trucks.

A Message from The President

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he other night, while driving home after a late meeting, I spotted an Operation Blessing 18-wheeler headed north. I wondered where the big rig was going at such a late hour and then remembered that our Hunger Strike Force is like a servant that never sleeps. The drivers have ten hours allocated to rest in each 24-hour period, but our fight against hunger goes on 24/7. This month’s column is a glimpse backstage into what keeps our fleet rolling. Our procurement team, based in Virginia Beach, works long hours prospecting for new corporate donors and contacting existing donors to secure truckloads of food, medicine and relief supplies. The team’s mission is to keep the trucks full. As each donation is secured, the information is entered into an online database and made immediately available to our dispatchers located in Ocala, Fla., and Charlotte, N.C. Each vehicle is equipped with a GPS that records and reports via satellite. The dispatchers have monitors on their desks showing a map of the U.S. highway system with blinking lights that indicate the location, speed and direction of travel of each truck in our fleet. Our dispatchers study their screens and determine which truck is best located to pick up the new donation and take it to one of our four hubs (Dallas; Ocala, Fla.; Chesapeake, Va.; and Bristol, Va.) or directly to a ministry recipient. On the receiving end, we bless a network of over 100 faith-based ministries with up to 2 million pounds of goods a week that they then distribute to hungry Americans, many of whom have lost their jobs and never before had to depend on charity. By operating with Swiss-watch efficiency, we leverage every drop of fuel and maximize each truck’s capacity to pick up and deliver donated product. On average, we deliver over $10 worth of product for every dollar invested. This is another demonstration of Operation Blessing’s “loaves and fishes” strategy to get more bang for every donor dollar. The next time you see an Operation Blessing truck on the road, please remember that besides the faithful driver and powerful diesel engine, the truck is driven by your compassion!

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May God bless you,


Inside this issue Cover

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Beads of Blessing As simple beads are fashioned into jewelry, moms are rescuing their children from the grip of starvation

4 A Thankful Father A former Marine faces empty cupboards until an Operation Blessing-supported food pantry comes to his aid 7 New Beginnings Girls rescued out of trafficking are getting a new beginning at an Operation Blessingsupported shelter

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11 Surgery for Yi A young boy born with a cleft palate in an impoverished village in China receives a gift that changes his life 12 A Second Chance For 15 days, Meira and her children survived on plain bread and weak coffee — desperately in need of a fresh start

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14 Hidden Refugees Operation Blessing works with a local partner to provide critical relief to Syrian refugees in the Jordanian desert

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NORTH CAROLINA

A Thankful Father

A former Marine faces empty cupboards until an Operation Blessing-supported food pantry comes to his aid

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ore than anything, Mike wanted to give his daughter a beautiful birthday party. But times were tough. Mike, a Marine veteran, had been placed on full disability after a terrible accident. Physical rehabilitation was difficult and each day was a challenge. But his daughter, Aubrey, inspired him to work hard at his recovery. “Being a father is the reason I wake up every day,” he said. “I don’t see anything else in my life being more important.” But financial problems began to compound his family’s struggle. And when he wasn’t able to put “Our Hunger Strike Force is like a servant that never sleeps,” said OBI President Bill food on the table, Mike found Horan. “The drivers have 10 hours allocated himself turning to an Operation to rest in each 24-hour period, but our fight Blessing-supported food pantry — against hunger goes on 24/7.”

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Victory Christian Ministries — for groceries. There, he received the food and household supplies he needed to provide for his daughter. In fact, Mike and Aubrey so appreciated the help they received that they both began volunteering to serve others at the food pantry. “You can just be at your lowest point and thinking ‘What am I going to do?’ ” Mike said. “And you can just show up at Victory Christian Ministries’ doorstep because they’re always ready to help.” As Aubrey’s fourteenth birthday approached, Mike knew he didn’t have the funds to give her the kind of party he wanted. But Victory Christian Ministries offered to give them a very special blessing — a birthday party for Aubrey, complete with cake, ice cream, karaoke and tons of fun. “I think it’s very generous for them to do that,” Aubrey said. “It made me really happy because I had people there who I know really care about me.” Her dad agrees. “It means a lot to the kids, what Operation Blessing and Victory Christian Ministries does,” he said. “It means a lot to the parents too.” Operation Blessing and Victory Christian Ministries have partnered for nearly ten years to bring hope and help to hungry families in North Carolina. “We could not do what we do without Operation Blessing,” said the ministry’s founder and director, Lee Younce. “It’s amazing to me how when we need stuff the most, Operation Blessing always come through.” ◆ 5


Happy Thanksgiving

“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy.” – Philippians 1:3-4

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s we celebrate the season of Thanksgiving, we offer a prayer of gratitude for you. Thank you for everything you do to bless the hungry and impoverished around the world!

Compassion in the Workplace Are you a military or federal government employee looking to make a difference? Choose Operation Blessing as your workplace giving charity this fall—CFC #10530! With more than 98 percent of Operation Blessing’s expenses going to help children and families in need, you can give with every confidence that your support will be used effectively and responsibly.

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LATIN AMERICA

New Beginnings Girls rescued out of trafficking are getting a new beginning at an Operation Blessing-supported shelter

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ast year, a shelter for trafficking victims sat empty — unable to open due to the condition of the property. Operation Blessing helped renovate it, replacing windows, sealing the roof, installing carpeting and even furnishing the home. Teams also helped train the staff and brought in experts from other shelters to assist. Recently, the home opened its doors to give shelter to girls between the ages of 12 and 17 rescued from the horrors of human trafficking. Here, they will receive loving care as they recover and rebuild their lives. Operation Blessing provided the girls with a laptop, exercise equipment, computer and fitness classes, and even piano lessons. And to celebrate the beginning of their new lives, the girls were taken to a spa and out to lunch for a special treat. “This is like being in a movie for me,” one girl said. “Thanks Operation Blessing!” Thank you for making a difference in the lives of these girls! ◆ 7


KENYA

As simple beads are fashioned into jewelry, moms are rescuing their children from the grip of starvation

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“I am se there is - Titai

ust a few short years ago, Titai could do nothing but watch as her children suffered from hunger. Unable to find work in her Maasai village, she could afford just one meal a day for her family — porridge. “I watched my children become skinny, with small bodies, suffering from malnutrition,” Titai said. “You could look at my girl who was five years old and think that she looked only two years old.” Eventually, Titai and her family left their home in search of work and food — waiting for the day they would be able to return to their village. Today though, their life is vastly different, thanks to the blessing of beads. Once again living in their Maasai village, Titai is all smiles, her neck adorned with numerous beaded necklaces traditional to her culture. “Life is changing now,” she said. “I am seeing now that there is hope for life.” Titai helps lead a special Operation Blessing livelihood project in her village that enables Maasai women to create their traditional beaded jewelry to sell. These beads of blessing supplied by Operation Blessing aid more than

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eeing now that hope for life.�

B Women in Titai’s village gather every week to create their traditional jewelry. 9


20 women in the village with a new source of income for their families. “I have always told the women that there is a lot of hope for us here,” Titai said. “There is a lot of future for us and our children.” The income Titai earns from her bead creations allows her to buy food and provide for her children’s needs — she is even able to send her little ones to school. Moreover, Titai participates in Operation Blessing’s community farm in her village, where women are taught how to grow a variety of nutritious veggies. She regularly picks fresh tomatoes and other produce to help feed her children and to sell at the market for income. “With the Operation Blessing farm and the beading work that we have started, we are going to achieve much greater things,” Titai said. “My hope is that women can make use of the information that is coming, that it will help us rise up and build better families.” Operation Blessing’s efforts to aid Maasai families like Titai’s extend beyond the agriculture project and livelihood programs like the beading initiative. OBI teams began an early childhood education program, building a school in the village and providing nutritious meals for students to help prevent malnutrition. Operation Blessing also drilled a new well near the school, providing clean drinking water for families. ◆ 10


CHINA

Surgery for Yi A young boy born with a cleft pala an impoverished village in China re te in ceives a gift that changes his life

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n a small village in China, Yi was born into a happy home with his parents and elderly grandparents. But the family often struggled to make ends meet with only his father’s modest income to pro vide for them. Even more challenging to the ir situation, Yi was born with a cleft palate — a condition that affected his ability to eat and swallow properly. But his fam ily knew they couldn’t afford the cost of the corrective sur gery he needed. As he grew, it was difficult for Yi to gain weight and he stru ggled to speak clearly. Then, at three years old, Yi rec eived the gift of a lifetime — surger y sponsored by Operation Ble ssing partners. Today, he is finally getting the nutrition he needs to thr Yi was born with a cleft ive and his palate, but today he has the family is even hel ping him learn how to chance for a new life. speak properly. “We are so thankful for your help,” his father said. “We wil l never forget you. You have giv en Yi a chance at a new life!” ◆

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EL SALVADOR

A Second Chance

For 15 days, Meira and her children survived on plain bread and weak coffee — desperately in need of a fresh start

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t was a scene reminiscent of the Last Supper. Meira passed around a cup of coffee to her four children, where they each took turns dipping bits of plain bread into it. This would be their only meal for the day — and their means of survival for the next two weeks. With four children to raise by herself, Meira did her best to provide safe housing, food, health care, school supplies and everything else her children needed. But her small bakery business produced only a modest income. The earnings helped her pay the bills, but she struggled to buy supplies to keep the bakery going and also pay the fees for her children to attend

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school. Worse, Meira and one of her daughters suffer from asthma, and after a bad asthma attack, she used all the resources she had left to buy the medicine they so desperately needed. With no other choice, Meira began selling their possessions to pay the bills and buy the supplies she needed to run her bakery. “Little by little, I was witnessing how cheaply we were selling the things we had bought with such hard effort,” Meira said. “But it was either that or seeing my children starve.” Eventually, Meira even had to sell the “But it was equipment she used for baking — like either that or her propane tank and refrigerator. But seeing my without the fridge, her ingredients quickly children starve.” spoiled and without the propane tank, - Meira she was relegated to using an old electric stove, severely limiting the amount of baking she could do. The family was soon reduced to eating small bits of plain bread, dipped in weak coffee for flavor. “Our hope was slowly fading away,” Meira said. She needed a second chance to restart and expand her bakery business to be able to provide for her family once more — a second chance provided by Operation Blessing. When OBI learned about her situation, a team brought Meira a new propane tank, refrigerator and all the supplies she needed to begin baking again. “This has left me speechless,” she said. “I can now buy jelly and make cakes and will not be worried about my products spoiling.” Further, Operation Blessing provided Meira and her daughter with the necessary medicine to treat their asthma, so she won’t have to use her business capital to pay for medical care. “These medicines are a blessing of God!” Operation Blessing teams deliver equipment and ingredients she said. ◆ to Meira and her family. 13


JORDAN

Hidden Refugees Operation Blessing works with a local partner to provide critical relief to Syrian refugees in the Jordanian desert

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ith no trees for shade and little water to be found, the desolate desert of northern Jordan is far from hospitable — but that hasn’t prevented desperate Syrian families from seeking safety here. Fleeing conflict in their homeland, many walked across the border into Jordan as refugees, with only the clothes on their backs. But these families are finding their temporary home a difficult place to survive. “Even before this crisis there

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were few resources for the Jordanians living in these villages,” said OBI’s vice president of international operations, David Darg. “Now the influx of Syrian refugees has put a bigger strain on an already sparse economy. There’s simply not enough food, water and shelter to go around.” Some fear retribution if they register in the official refugee camp, so many families are living in abandoned buildings or pitching tents in the desert. Work is scarce, and they face the very real threat of hunger every day. Operation Blessing worked with a local partner to provide emergency relief kits containing essential food items, including pasta, lentils, sugar and cooking oil and hygiene supplies, like soap. Together, teams sought out refugees living in abandoned buildings and those housed in small clusters of tents in the desert, distributing the much-needed supplies and responding to requests for necessities like blankets to protect them against the cold of night. Back in the city, a makeshift distribution site was set up where women could come at regular intervals to collect more food supplies to help sustain their families until they are able to return home. “They are hidden refugees,” Darg said. “But not forgotten.” ◆

Refugee families living in unofficial tent camps receive blankets to protect them against the cold of night. 15


For some families, a Thanksgiving meal is just a dream.

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he approach of Thanksgiving makes us think of abundance. But for many families in Pennsylvania, Minnesota, California, South Carolina – all across the country – meager meals and empty stomachs are more the order of the day, every day. Hunger and food insecurity right here in the United States is more common than you might think. Let’s give suffering families something to be thankful for today! Give a gift to help support the many food pantries that keep American children from going to bed hungry.

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Copyright © 2013 by Operation Blessing International, P.O. Box 2636, Virginia Beach, VA 23450. For more information, call (800) 730-2537 or visit our website at operationblessing.org

Beads of Blessing - Blessings Magazine - November 2013  

As simple beads are fashioned into jewelry, moms are rescuing their children from the grip of starvation. Blessings is a monthly publication...