This past weekend we were able to make it to an open house for Christian Aid Ministries (CAM) for the first time ever. The CAM folks cleverly scheduled it on the night that the clocks fell back, so we could stay late and still come out an hour ahead after arriving home. For those who don't know or have never heard of CAM, it is a mostly volunteer-run non-profit relief effort which provides everything from food, clothes, building projects, and spiritual help throughout much of the world. It is run and supported by Amish, Mennonite, and conservative Anabaptist churches. I've long admired CAM's relief work in places like Haiti, Liberia, Eastern Europe, and here in the US among many other places. And I love that over 99% of their donations go directly towards aid work, making them one of the leanest charities around.
We arrived at the CAM warehouse in Ephrata, PA in time for the slide show presentation and heard first hand accounts of how CAM workers help people in dire need around the world. It was especially sobering to see pictures of people in Romania standing next to meager piles of firewood intended to warm their one-room homes, piles that will surely run out before the harsh winter ends. Something I often think about is, who am I to have so much? I was born into a loving family where we ate three meals a day and never had to worry about where we would sleep at night. I have done NOTHING to deserve this. It makes you acutely aware that to whom much is given, much is required. (Luke 12:48) Will I ever be able to meet all that is required of me in this lifetime?
The response to the event looked impressive. A glance at the guest books showed that visitors came from as far away as Canada, and there were many people from out of state. I wondered how we might get to where we wanted to go with hundreds of people milling about. If someone decided they wanted to stop moving and talk to someone nearby, the crowd would come to a standstill and you would have to devise a new route out of the masses. Thankfully most people were sensitive to this, and didn't have their reunions in the middle of the warehouse floor.
The slide show was informative, but I really looked forward to stretching my legs and touring the warehouse and cannery. The warehouse was packed with boxes filled with medicine, hygiene kits, food, and of course those famous comforters that so many church sewing circles lovingly create. No parts of the warehouse were "off limits" so you were allowed to look in every corner. And nobody had a problem with taking pictures. In fact, there was at least one official photographer taking lots of pictures.
Children enjoyed leaning over the enormous canners and peering down into their dark depths. The canners were a dark well of at least 10-15 feet deep so they can process a lot of beef and chicken parts at once. I can't imagine how hot that room must get when both the industrial canners are running at full capacity.
The most crowded section of the event was definitely the book selling tables. A wide selection of books were available, all at a discounted price. The lines of people that surrounded the book tables were four bodies deep! You definitely needed some patience to view the selection, but it was worth it. I showed restraint by buying only one book to add to my winter stock pile of reading material.
Speaking of books, MaryAnn at A Joyful Chaos is having a book giveaway. The book is called His Protecting Hand and you can find out how to enter by visiting her blog.