Well we made it through the tough first week of our new assignment in Casa Grande and I’m so thankful! We learned in Connecticut that the first week is always going to be hard. We don’t know anyone yet and Charlie is usually in orientation for five days. During that time, I’m making volunteer contacts, but not actually working yet. Then, when Charlie gets home, I’m anxious to go do something together and he’s pretty worn out. However, our first week here was much easier because we knew what to expect. In Connecticut, I struggled with the thought “Wait, I just quit my job, we moved up 1,000 miles away from everyone we know and now I’m all alone everyday?!” This time, I knew to just enjoy the quiet week and be reassured that friends and volunteer work will come very soon.
With that said, I started both of my volunteer positions today. I worked for a few hours this morning with Seeds of Hope, an organization that provides a hot lunch six days a week for the local homeless community. The other volunteers were extremely welcoming, and I feel like I have friends there already. Not a single one of them is anything like me, which is going to be a lot of fun. One exciting thing about our whole travel experience is getting to know people who are different from us. Most of my relational experiences are with people who share my background and ideas. It’s going to be fun and a real learning opportunity to work alongside the people I met today. We had about 50 people come through the line, which made for a very full lunch room. I’m hoping that there might be days when the tables have a few empty spots, so I can sit down and make friends with the clients as well. My prayers is simply that the Lord use me in any way He sees fit on these mornings.
This afternoon, I had an initial volunteer interview at the hospital where Charlie is working. I’ll have a formal hospital orientation on February 13 and then be approved to work with the Life Stories program. Basically, I’ll sit with a patient and “interview” them about their lives, families, etc. and write a 1-2 page life story to give to them and their doctor. An example would be interviewing new parents and providing them with a brief story of how they chose the baby name, etc. to keep as a memento. Other times, it might be writing an end of life story for a family to keep. In each situation, it also helps the doctor to know more about the patient and hopefully foster a stronger connection. I’m very excited about this opportunity! Not only will it keep me writing, but I love getting to know people. Meeting new people and learning their stories, even if we never see each other again, will help me feel like I’m part of a community here. For this position, I’m praying that the Lord will use me to show the patients His love, comfort and peace. It’s what I pray for Charlie’s time on the floor each day, and now we’ll pray it for my time in the different hospital units as well.
Charlie had his first official day in the ICU yesterday, and he said it went really well. He is enjoying being in a smaller hospital setting and is looking forward to getting to know the other nurses. He met a few who are our age, so I’m hoping we can make some quick friends. This is where my love for baking becomes a serious asset. “Hey, want to come over Saturday? My wife’s baking a cake and we’ll play games or something.” I’m kidding. Sort of.
Other than all of that, we’re ready for the weekend to come. We’re off to the official Phoenix Chinese Festival on Friday (this makes sense in some universe, I’m sure), and then Charlie is going to our church’s “manly” retreat on Saturday. We also found a great hiking spot at a mountain just on the edge of town that we’re anxious to get back to. Then, we’ve got a lot to look forward to in terms of a Grand Canyon trip, days hiking in Sedona, visiting the “wild west” in Tombstone, and driving along the Apache trail for some of the best scenery in the state. (Basically, come visit us. We have a pull-out couch and I’ll bake you cake.)