We travelled with a team of Canadians to Mexico in January 2000, with Operation Christmas Child, to distribute shoebox gifts to the children in the southern Chiapas region.

OCC is sponsored by Samaritan's Purse, a Christian relief organization that brings "God's love" to the needy people in war-torn or poverty-stricken areas of the world by providing sources of clean drinking water, providing resources to help children in orphanages, and meeting needs in many other ways. Here are a few photos of the trip:

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Cherryl, Leanne and Jan prepared shoeboxes for the Samaritan's Purse "Operation Christmas Child" project. The boxes were filled by many generous people in the Prince George community with gifts for needy children in poorer countries.

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The OCC team left Prince George about 6 am on Saturday, January 15, meeting other Canadian team members in both Calgary and Toronto. Here, Alana and Karen got a head start on their journalling after spending most of Saturday night in the Mexico City airport.

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Distribution was done in three different communities including the orphanage. The shoebox gifts made it all the way from Canada to Mexico without any problems.

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The first day and night was spent at the Casa Hogar Alegre orphanage in Tuxtla. The children gave them a heart-warming welcome complete with a welcome sign and singing. This is also where they were joined by the Mexican team members.

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Christmas comes only once a year, but to some of these children in the village of Ocotal it comes once in a life-time. These boys waited eagerly for the signal to open their shoebox gifts.

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These children were waiting for the shoebox distribution which, in their community of Ocosingo, was not scheduled to take place until evening.

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The medical staff held clinics where they treated over 300 patients in the three communities. This little boy didn't seem bothered one bit as medical student, Ruben Marquez Marin examined his ears.

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Many of the health problems that plague the people in Mexico are attributable to contaminated water sources. Several water filters were installed in each community where the team went. In this photo, team leader Sandra Rios instructs Pastor Louis in the operation and maintenance of the water filter while his daughters look on.

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Samaritan's Purse works along with local churches in order to identify needs in the communities. The team found many ways to keep occupied during their visits to Tuxtla, Ocosingo and Ocotal. Here, Jay and Brian were adding some colour to a church in Ocotal.

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There was even time to fit in a little sight-seeing. Here is an alligator that was spotted beside the river near Tuxtla.

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Before the team left they presented a Canadian flag to el Presidente, Adolfo Gutiérrez Cruz (far right), of Ocosingo who had accompanied them into the communities, providing them with police escort and ensuring that they had everything they needed.

Every human being has the need to feel significant. The children and others in these communities often have no hope. They are desperately poor and in need of medical attention without much hope of improvement. Hopefully, these people felt some kind of significance when the Operation Christmas Child team travelled all the way from Canada to give them gifts - the kind of significance we experience when we learn that the God of heaven sent his only Son into the world on that first Christmas to give us the gift of eternal life. Perhaps they experienced a little bit of God's love.

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Copyright © 2000, Brian Robinson. All rights reserved.