In July 2009 I spent about 2 weeks teaching English and being helpful to the international workers who housed and fed us. I’ve had some time to reflect on my journey. I’d like to share three things I’ve learned from my trip.
- It doesn’t take a lot of talent or skill to make a difference. Our main work was talking to the students. Most of us were quite capable of speaking well in our native tongue. We listened to our students. Again this is something that was managed easily. Lastly we showed them affection, compassion and care as the situations arose. We treated all people with dignity. None of these behaviors needed a lot of talent or skill to do well. And yet, the exercise of these behaviors yielded great gain. I.e. One student recently said that until attending classes at the learning center, he hated all Americans. But through the ministry of compassion, listening, and dignity a blinding stereotype was eradicated. That has worldwide as well as spiritual implications!
- It doesn’t take a lot of time or words to make a difference. The time we spent with individual workers was limited. And yet, by their own admission, we made an emotional and relational difference because of the time, prayers, and thoughts we shared with them. Our very presence let them know that we placed a high value on them as individuals and as co-laborers.
- It doesn’t take a lot of donations to make a difference. As you might remember we posted a list of needed items in the CrossRoads and bulletin. We requested such things as aspirin, multi-vitamins, baby clothes, thank you cards, granola bars and chocolate chips. Your response overwhelmed us (“carrier pigeons”) because it was so generous. The workers were surprised and touched as well by your response. Individually we wouldn’t have made such an impact. But together? Together our individual donations made a huge impact and difference.
As a side note, it was cool to be able to be a “carrier pigeon” and see/experience the delight and warmth of the workers as they realized what and how much you all gave. One of the workers expressed wonderment that people she didn’t know cared enough to send items (gifts) and she recognized that for some this was a sacrificial gift.
Support can come out of any group that meets regularly whether or not it is called a support group.
- Support groups can be purposeful and formal like a 12 step group, a Bible study class, a diabetes care group, or a weight watchers meeting.
- They can have an informal agenda like a group of folks who meet every Sunday morning before the second service at church, moms who meet at the park in the afternoons after school, or seniors who meet every Thursday morning for coffee.
- Bible study groups, informal groups, or topic-generated groups can turn into a support group.
- On Tuesday, April 13th we started a new class for folks dealing with chronic pain/illness. In honor of that class I generated a list of potential benefits for attending that class.
Read on for 35 reasons it is beneficial to attend a support group.
- To be around others who are experiencing a similar life experience
- To hear others say what you are saying/thinking
- Figuring out how you are feeling/thinking because of hearing about others’ thoughts/feelings
- Relieve isolation
- A place to give voice to your hopes, fears, losses
- And for those hopes, fears and losses to be heard!
- Place to be understood
- Place to speak openly and honestly
- Learn what to do to have a better, more peaceful lifestyle
- Learn how to live with a disability, disease or new situation
- Studies show that people who attend healthy support groups tend to live longer.
- They are also less depressed and more motivated to take care of themselves.
- Finally they often feel less overwhelmed and more in control of the disease and/or pain.
- Place to find and give inspiration, support, exhortation, hope, and information
- Friendship with like-minded individuals
- Feel helped and guided not attacked and belittled
- Help in applying your faith to problems
- Reminder to live one day at a time
- Reminder that this is not all there is to life – Heaven is coming!
- Reminder that you are more than your disease/pain/situation
- To be around others who’ll understand the fear, anger, resentment, grief, and /or helplessness you feel about your changing body/situation and that you are not “you” any more
- Be around people who will not belittle you or take you too seriously because they have been, are, or will be where you are emotionally, physically, spiritually
- Be around people who won’t coddle you
- Place to learn effective self-care techniques
- Model taking care of yourself
- Learn how to love yourself
- Share experiences, information, encouragement, support and hope
- Help you understand yourself
- Be with people who don’t see you as a problem to be solved
- Be around others who didn’t know you “before” and so aren’t sad/grieving with you about that loss
- Be around others who show that “this” disease/pain/situation is livable
- Be able to go on this journey with someone else
- Be around those who have realistic expectations for you and your life
- See what realistic expectations look like
- Feel a sense of belonging
Your Turn. Which ones do you identify with? What has been left off the list? What makes you mad?
Our mighty ball of fire, magnificent in scope to the earth-bound
- Realizing its lack of importance
- Shines forth in royal humility fulfilling Creation’s intent
The unlimited sky gushes blue-filled devotion
- Praising the sun for its own place of belonging
The strong, tall birch trees minutely ascending upward
- Wave leaves in wordless praise
- Honoring the untainted blue sky
The flitting birds and the stationary ones nestled on nests
- Offer audible praise to the strong, tall birch trees
- Thanking them for care received today
I, grounded, in form, have a choice.
- Will I offer work, praise, honor, and thanks to the ONE?
- Will I let my heart, thoughts and body worship in truth?
Shall I fly . . .
- In royal humility fulfilling Creation’s intent for my life
- Praising the Son for my own place of belonging
- Honoring the untainted, ever holy Creator of the sky
- Offering wordless and audible praise for this moment of attention?
Startled my glance reveals a brown stain upon my foot.
Inspection brings the stain into focus:
- Proud peacock with royal feathers
- Solitary bloom emerging from this unlikely soil
- Lines and squiggles of unnamed origin complete the pattern
My life is either a brown stain or purposeful pattern. It all depends upon the focus.
Picture #1: When we visited the Tomb (July 2009) it was empty.
Picture #2: It was empty on Easter morn too!
Picture #3: This is the view out of the tomb. Nothing to see inside, but because of Jesus’ Resurrection, there is plenty of life outside.
Can you see the “face” in the rock formation? Look straight up from the back window of the truck.That’s the nose and eyes are up further. On top is where Jesus is said to have been crucified.
This is the real view looking into the tomb of Jesus (one of the supposed spots). On the Saturday after Jesus’ death the stone would have still been in front of the entrance.
This is the stone that goes in front of the entrance to the Tomb.
See the channel where the stone rolled?