Moving from the Philippines to Alaska in 2016 brought about a full year of transition. The change in weather, the types of clothes, and especially wearing shoes were all part of my life’s new normal.

God plugged me into our church right away. A friend soon invited me and my husband to a Thanksgiving celebration where the church was starting a new ministry opportunity by packing fun toys, hygiene items, and school supplies into red and green boxes. The colors and the little airplane logo were familiar – it all came rushing back to me. I remembered when I received a shoebox gift just like these!

God’s timing is perfect. As soon as He brought me to a new home, He gave me something precious and familiar from my childhood, and He fostered my childhood heart’s desire to encourage people to pack more shoebox gifts.

I immediately became a project leader, facilitating our church’s new involvement with Operation Christmas Child, and I soon also got involved with our local MOPS group where we continue to motivate each other and share each other’s burdens. God brought me a rich community ready to take me in with open arms!

Now as a mom, I am able to use Operation Christmas Child to teach my kids to be generous even though they don’t know the children they are giving to. My 5-year-old daughter makes sure that every shoebox has a box of crayons. Lately, she’s been insisting, “Mommy, I want to pray over a shoebox so the kids can know that I’m praying for them.”

It’s not always easy being a mom; sometimes there are storms. A community like MOPS helps us to help each other weather the typhoons in our own homes. I’m always asking the Lord for wisdom in how I raise my children as Christians. He is constantly reminding me that it’s not just about teaching my kids, but it’s also about teaching myself. Generosity comes from me first before I can teach it to my children.

I know they are watching me, learning from how I live and act and give. So I am conscious in what I model to my children. Sometimes I will give them a bit of my dessert because this is generous, and because I love to give to my kids. Or we will pack shoebox gifts for children we may never meet, because this is generous, and because we love to share Jesus’ love. In simple actions, they will learn how to love and be generous.

God had shown me how He is always faithful in my life and with my family. From poverty in the Philippines, through the trials of a typhoon, and even when life changed around me – His love endures forever, and His love never fails. I pray that God will continue to use me to share the Good News with children all around the world through shoebox gifts. I am forever grateful to be one of these children. And I’m grateful now to be part of my MOPS group where we pack shoebox gifts every year and impact the lives of children around the world.

If you are leading a MOPS group, I strongly encourage you to get your group together and pack shoeboxes. Together, we can impact the lives of our own kids and other children around the world.