Yesterday was my last day to volunteer at New Haven Home Recovery, which makes leaving Connecticut feel official. It’s hard to believe that 12 weeks have already flown by and we are in our last days here. Though I only played a very small part at NHHR, they were really sweet and brought me flowers, a NHHR t-shirt and a few cards to say goodbye. Though I will not miss sitting in the most uncomfortable chair known to man, I will definitely miss the people I got to know over our Monday and Wednesday afternoons together.
This first travel volunteer experience taught me a lot about what I hope to find in future opportunities. While I am so grateful to have been able to serve at NHHR, I have learned that I want to begin looking for something more “hands-on.” Once they learned of my communication background, I was immediately trained as the home recovery’s volunteer receptionist. I did work on some fundraising projects, but mostly I read a book and answered the phones. I want to use these opportunities to gain ministry experience, and I think that will work better if I look for opportunities that deal more with the actual ministering part of an organization and less of the administrative side. I realized at NHHR that through my work at AUMC, administrative work is definitely my comfort zone. But I really want to get more comfortable in the relational side of ministry.
However, I don’t think my time at NHHR was wasted at all! The Lord certainly opened my eyes to the desperation of people we share these city limits with. Through simply answering the phones or opening the door for visitors, I heard so many stories of not being able to make ends meet, mothers unable to provide their children shelter, young men seeking diapers for their infant sons, etc. I always felt like I had nothing to offer them, and it was tough to see the amount of red tape they had to get through in order to meet their needs (necessary on NHHR’s part, but frustrating nonetheless). Through all of it, the Lord showed me the value of simply being available to listen without interrupting and being kind in the face of frustration.
He also showed me that no matter what my background, I should never feel above any area of service. NHHR had a need for a receptionist two afternoons a week. It seemed small to me on so many occasions, but it taught me to serve with humility. If I ask the Lord to use me to fill a need, I should be grateful to serve wherever He places me and serve there with enthusiasm. I walked in every day trying to do my best, be kind in a sometimes rough office environment and show Him to the people who walked through the door. At AUMC, sometimes I was so caught up in the level of work that the way I worked took a backseat. I definitely feel like I’ve grown in that area here, and I’m grateful for how the Lord used this small opportunity to teach me big things.