Mission Week Volunteers Reflect on Experiences…Feb. 10, 2012

It is one of the beautiful compensations of life, that no man can sincerely help another without helping himself. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Mission week has come to an end. While there will always be more to do, we’ve wrapped up our projects for now. A huge thanks goes out to all the volunteers, community partners and organizations that worked with us.

We gathered one final time to revel in our accomplishments and reflect on our time here before people headed for home. I struggled with how to communicate the powerful experiences of our volunteers and wished I had more than my hastily written notes. Instead these excerpts—only an approximation of part of the conversation—will have to suffice.

Jay (Nebraska, returning volunteer) – “I just want to thank everyone. We know how busy everyone is and we’re just glad we could share part of this time with you. Our goal is to plan for next year so that we can be here longer.”

35 volunteers participated in this Mission Week. This the group that worked full time during the past week. Back: April, Gary, Byron, Ray, Jason, Roger, Jay. Middle: Kristin, Aimee, Larry, Mike, Karen, Ilene, Sandy, Phyllis. Front: Tammy, Becky, Shirley, Diane, Julie.

Shirley (California, 1st-time volunteer) – “I’ve had a marvelous time. I felt so welcomed and cared for all this week.”

Diane (Nebraska, 1st-time volunteer) – “I remember Carlitos, the little boy at the therapy house we were renovating. He wouldn’t even look at me at first. But later in the week, he was waiting for us at the gate. He grew so much within a matter of days just being exposed to that extra stimulation.”

Carl (half-time island resident) – “The people at the therapy house were so happy to have all these repairs made. But they’re just happy people. They’ll laugh at the drop of a hat.”

Larry (Iowa/part-time resident, FOC leadership group) – “Roger made this comment….I don’t care how bad a day you’re having when you go to the therapy house or out to Jose’s family, you feel so much better when you leave. I agree with him, they’re so happy that it’s like they’re giving back just through their influence.”

Karen (island resident, FOC leadership group) – “It’s all about perspective. It just hits me when I go back to the U.S. every single time. Everything is so big and we own so much stuff. It feels very wasteful at times because the families here are incredibly happy without all of that. I keep learning that over and over.”

Carl – “All the stuff we own just doesn’t mean anything. Some of these families have so little, but they’re so happy. I think sometimes we allow stuff to replace family”

Diane – “I know. Antonia (grandmother in Jose’s family of 12+) keeps saying ‘God blessed me’ yet they have hardly anything and sometimes not enough food to eat.”

Roger (Nebraska, 1st-time volunteer) – “When they climbed those trees to get the coconuts down for us, Larry said he wished they would keep them for themselves since they have so little. But they felt a need to give something back and that’s what they had.”

Larry – “It was a great gesture. It was one of those special moments.”

Aimee (Iowa, 1st time volunteer)– “You think you’re going to feel sorry for them, but you go out to Jose’s family home and they’re so happy. There’s no way you should feel sorry.”

Roger – “They’ve given me more this week than I’ve given them. This is one of the most energizing experiences I’ve had in years.”

Gary (Nebraska, FOC leadership group)– “Sometimes I wonder if I could be that happy with so little and that makes me sad. It’s almost like you lose part of your soul when you have so much. You tend to spend time in other ways when you have fewer material goods.”

Kristin (North Carolina, returning volunteer) – “Yes, we all spend too much time taking care of our stuff.”

Sandy (island resident, FOC leadership group) – “A lady who gave a donation told me ‘you can have all this stuff. I know where my next meal is coming from. It’s not until you get rid of some of your stuff that God will bring new things into your life.’”

Ilene (Texas, FOC leadership group) – “Do you ever wonder how God decides where we’ll be born and what we’ll have? We’re so lucky to be born with all our freedoms and opportunities. We have a commandment from God to share and serve. That’s what we’re here for.”

Becky (Nebraska, 1st-time volunteer) – “I was excited to meet all of the women at the NUAFA sewing class and how happy they were with the underwear they’d made.”

Mike (Nebraska, 1st-time volunteer) – “The sewing is a valuable skill. Today Becky and Diane gave the maid in our condo one of the little cloth bags Becky makes with some little gifts inside. She said ‘I’ve never seen anything so beautiful. I wish women here knew how to make them.’”

Sandy – “All your different skills have been so helpful. I was so impressed with how gracious everyone has been with the work assignments. Some things were more difficult than others and we got dirty, but everyone just did what needed to be done,”

Byron (Texas; FOC leadership group) – “Look at what we’ve accomplished with 35 people. Just think of what we could do with 10 more—or even double that amount. There’s lots to do here.”

And there is so much more to do. That’s why we’re planning more mission work between the last week of July and the first week of August. You’re invited to join us. – Phyllis (Nebraska, FOC leadership group)

Let your life speak. ~ Quaker saying

One thought on “Mission Week Volunteers Reflect on Experiences…Feb. 10, 2012

  1. Liliana

    Congratulations you are wonderful people! Blessings

    Nothing more rewarding than having the opportunity to make someone else smile and have a better life! Brick by brick, day by day always forwards

    You are the best guys

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *