Week of Service Reflection #1
This Week of Service Internship was my third experience with Good Works this summer. I had originally visited as part of a work retreat group with my school, and two weeks later I returned for a weekend. It was during my first trip that I began to realize that God was calling me to Good Works. Through the relationships I formed with volunteers, interns, staff, and community members I developed a better understanding of what it means to be a neighbor, as well as the importance of community building. I learned what it means to trust God, and I learned what it looks like to be the hands and feet of Christ.
When I arrived at the Hannah House on Sunday, I spent the day getting to know the interns and work retreat group. There was an immediate connection with a few of the people from the group, and I remember being excited to work alongside many of them throughout the remainder of the week. That evening, I read about the baptism of Jesus in Matthew 3. I was so encouraged by the fact that Jesus Himself came to be baptized by John the Baptist. To me, it was the perfect reminder that Jesus never acted as if He was too good for us. Instead, He walked among us forming relationships with people, loving them as family. I went to bed that night with a desire to be more like Jesus, treating all I come across with hospitality and loving them as family. My week with Good Works allowed me the opportunity to do just that.
Monday morning came and the devotion focused on Job and his faithfulness. A man who had lost everything somehow continued to have faith that God knew what He was doing. Rather than blaming God, he rejoiced in His promises. During my trip I met many people who were grieving and hurting, yet still trusting in God. Neighbors helping neighbors projects introduced me to people who were struggling financially, physically, and emotionally, yet these people were some of the most spiritual people I had ever met. Each of them forced me to think about what it really means to rely on God, and throughout the week, as I grew closer to those I was working with, I began to apply these lessons to my own life.
One day, I worked with a group to stain a deck for an elderly couple. We packed our lunches and headed over for the project. When we got there, we went in the home to say hello, and were greeted by two of the nicest people I have ever met. They were both so thankful and invited us inside to eat lunch with them when the time came. As we stained the deck in 90 degree weather, I was amazed at how happy I was. It was not an easy project, yet it barely felt like work because I knew that I was making a difference in the lives of others. We went inside their home for lunch, thanking them for inviting us into the air conditioned room. The man ended up telling us his story, and it was amazing to see the children of my group hanging on to every word he said. The couple was so happy to have the opportunity to speak with us, and I left that day having realized that being a neighbor simply requires being present and listening to people.
My experience at the Timothy House stands out to me most when reflecting on my week with Good Works. It was there where I met a lady who had recently lost her child. She had just moved into the Timothy House and there was an instant connection between us. We ate together, washed dishes together, and played a couple games of Uno before it was time for me to head back to the Hannah House. Throughout the night, she shared pieces of her story with me. It was evident that she was grieving, but I knew that God had sent me there that day to listen to her. I left that night hurting for her and all that she had been through, thanking God for putting her in my life.
Friday morning, I was scheduled to spend some time alone at the Carter Cabin. I spent about two hours there journaling and talking to God about my week. As I was praying, the phrase “break my heart for what breaks Yours” popped into my head. It was a quote I had heard before in sermons, prayers, and songs yet I had never really spent time thinking about what it means. It was then that I realized that this is exactly what God had done for me this week. Through all of the broken, hurting, grieving people I had come across, God allowed me to hear their stories. He gave me just a glimpse into the way He was feeling. I came to understand that as His children hurt, He is hurting with them. This comforted me as it showed me His love for us. He gave me countless opportunities to simply listen to my brothers and sisters in Christ, and allowed me hurt with Him. He showed me just a glimpse of how He feels as He broke my heart for what breaks His.
Friday Night Life was my final scheduled event for the week, and having experienced it once previously, I was excited to catch up with those I met before, as well as get to know even more people from the community while sharing a meal together. As I approached people and started conversations during the meal, I was amazed at the friendliness of everyone I met. Being from Dayton (a pretty large city with many busy people), there are very few opportunities to simply come together as a community and spend time forming relationships with one another. At Friday Night Life, however; everyone genuinely wants to get to know you. Relationships are important to all involved and you feel welcomed by everyone. Good Works’ emphasis on community and relationships will forever stand out to me. My week at the Hannah House has strengthened my relationship with God as He begins to reveal to me His plans for my life. I will definitely be coming back to serve with Good Works.
Week of Service Reflection #2
This past week was my second Week of Service with Good Works this summer. I worked with Kid’s Discovery Club all week and visited the Timothy House two times throughout my stay. Coming into Kid’s Discovery Club, I did not know what to expect. Most of the volunteers and interns there had known the children for many weeks, so I assumed that I would simply assist leaders when I was needed. Instead, I made instant connections with a few of the children and participated in planning activities for the week.
On my first day at Kid’s Discovery Club, we took a field trip to the library. Since we had to walk there, each child was told to partner with someone for safety. As everyone was partnering up, a little girl (I’ll call her Julie) asked if I would like to be her partner and we headed to the library. We talked the whole way there about our favorites (animals, books, activities), and when we got to the library for story and craft-time, she asked me to sit with her. She and I continued to spend time together, and I left that day excited to see her again on Tuesday.
Each day after that began with free time in the gym for the children where we would play volleyball, basketball, tag, etc. Julie and I continued to spend time together and I started to get to know her siblings as well. One day, I was doing handstands and cartwheels with the children when Julie’s mother came to pick her up. Julie excitedly asked her mother to watch me do gymnastics and her mother and I ended up talking about Julie and how well she and I were getting along.
On the last day of Kid’s Discovery Club, the parents were invited to observe as their children received awards (friendliest, kindest, etc.). After each award was presented, the children and volunteers were invited to provide words of affirmation about each child. Interns and volunteers were also affirmed, and when it was my turn Julie’s mother spoke up. She said that Julie couldn’t stop talking about me all week and that she was thankful for a camp where her daughter could make such connections with someone. Her comments will continue to stick with me moving forward as they made me realize how big of a difference a person can make just by spending time with a child. I am continuously amazed by the lessons I learn and the relationships I form while at Good Works.