An Account of a Young Marine & His Family

I was visiting with my son’s neighbor and he is in CLB-11 that we support. He returned from a 7-month deployment and was one of our recipients receiving our goodie bags.  He received the stockings we made as well as the neckbands.  I spent the day with him and his family while babysitting my grandkids all day. His wife came to our last Christmas party while he was deployed.  It was nice to know someone that got our gifts of love and how much they are appreciated. His wife said people really don’t understand how poorly the younger Marines are payed and how little they have.

~ Linda

Everyone Can Be Useful to God

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Thank you for honoring this 96 year-old woman with a certificate of appreciation. I had wrapped it up and put a big bow on it to make it special. When she saw the front she gently opened it and read it slowly and then the tears rolled down her cheek. She looked at me and as she stroked it she said,  “I don’t deserve this. I can’t do that much.”  I reminded her of all the cookies she baked and the happy faces at the events when they gobbled them up. I reminded her how something homemade and warm means to our military when they are in the mountains of Afghanistan or Iraq. I reminded her of all of the baby beanies/caps she has made for our Baby Moses Baskets. As she read the certificate again, I stroked her cheek and told her what she does matters! As she read it again and again she completely broke down and sobbed!! Every one of us had tears rolling down our faces.  She just kept stroking it murmuring, “I can’t believe it. I really don’t deserve such an honor. I will treasure it. I promise I will treasure it.”

~ Charlyne

Blessed to be a Blessing

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“It has been an amazing blessing to be a part of Acts of Appreciation, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to serve.  I was truly touched by the gratitude expressed by our military families on Saturday [at the Christmas Blessings Toy Store.]  It was so obvious that parents appreciated having a little bit of a break and being able to shop on their own.  I noticed a very large percentage of children with special needs this year.  I’ve added this to my prayer list!  One of the things I really loved seeing was the way so many of the kids know each other and treat each other with kindness and hugs.  One little girl, “M”, came to us with what looked like severe CP, and the way the other children greeted her and were kind to her melted my heart.  When parents dropped off their kids, more than a couple came right over and greeted “M” with a “Hi Beautiful,” and lots of encouragement.  They truly are one, big family.

This year, I think we had more parents come and hang out at the tables and chat with us volunteers.  It was neat to make the connection with adults.  It brought home how much support and love these families need. I could go on and on!”

~ Kathy

Serving with Grandkids

I attended your workshop on Wednesday with my 5 grandchildren.  I just had to let you know what a great job you are doing. My grandchildren came away with a great feeling of pride in that they had done something so important. All of the volunteers were so friendly and treated the kids very special. Thanks for providing such a great experience to share with my grandchildren. Count on us to help again!

Serving Coffee Gives Precious Time

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“I have to shout God’s praises!! I had the pleasure of serving coffee at last month’s pre-deployment breakfast, which gave me the opportunity to chat with troops and thank them.

One young Marine (woman) said she was deploying and was in the medical field.  She said she had done the hard part in saying goodbye to her husband and kids back east. As she talked the tears ran down her cheek.  I told her I remembered how hard that was, my husband is a Vietnam Vet. I told her that it was my faith that carried me through.  She leaned in and with tears asked me to pray for them!!!  I think she was embarrassed by her tears and started to move away.   I told her to check out the Bibles and other Christian books.  All were our gift to her.

Another young Marine showed me his “Our Father” bracelet his girlfriend sent him to keep him safe.  We chatted a moment, and then he came back twice for coffee, each time showing me his bracelet and asking if I remembered him. The last time he came, he leaned in and asked if we would pray for him, and I got to witness for a few minutes!

Oh, our precious Lord is so amazing! How He keeps calling us to Him!”

Volunteers of All Ages

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This is Isabel, a 94-year old grandma who served in the Royal Air Force in her younger days and remembers what it’s like to be deployed and far from home. She has been volunteering with our ministry for 4 years, first baking, and now crocheting caps. She sends in a bag every time the Crochet group meets, and says because of the ministry she is having fun again. Isabel is an amazing inspiration that we are NEVER too old (or too young) to make a difference!

From a Coffee & Chat Volunteer

“Please thank Saddleback for providing these wonderful military families with Bibles. Especially the children’s Bibles. I spent the entire afternoon thanking God for allowing me to talk to so many women as I helped out at the Christian Resource table. I just have to share. I overheard a couple women talking and one picked up a children’s Bible and handed it to her friend telling her it would be perfect for her son. She responded ‘Oh yes, I am saving to get him one.  Money is so tight right now.’… I told her to please take it, that it was a gift from Saddleback Church. I held her hand and said that it was hers and reassured her that God will provide. Later, another woman came up to me to say hello. She reminded me that she didn’t understand her big Bible and I gave her that one for her to read with her daughter. She’d been so afraid God would get mad at her for reading the children’s Bible, not the regular one, and was so grateful that I had reassured her. She looked at the teen Bible and shyly asked if we would give her that one someday.  She said she was working up to her regular Bible her mom had given her.  Well of course I immediately gave her the teen Bible and asked her to please come back and tell me what she thought. She hugged me! God’s love wrapped me in a hug!”