29 November 2016

YES! I did it!

I REALLY don't like talking on the phone, for any reason, ever. Not even with family and close friends. I can do it, I don't sound freaked out and usually don't stumble over my words. I even leave coherent messages on answering machines. But given the choice between talking to someone in person, texting, fb messaging or email... or making a phone call - I will NEVER choose the phone call. 

My husband doesn't get that, not at all. So, sometimes I have one other avoidance option - I get him to make the necessary phone call for me!

He usually rolls his eyes and sighs big... and then does that little service for me, because he loves me!

When you add the complication of trying to make a phone call in French - well, I can become a world champion procrastinator...

Several months ago, I decided I decided it was time to start looking for ways to volunteer, outside of my church or a Christian school, in my local community - wherever that might be. It was one of those New Year's resolutions from a few years back - before we left Niger for home assignment. I had been convicted of my furloughing introvertedness:  when home from Africa (our place of service, at that time), I'd literally quarantine myself within the Christian community. I couldn't... didn't... do that for four year chunks while in Niger; I figured I had that right and I had justified it by my very real need need to rest, recharge and rebuild. 

January 2013, I realized that MY "reasonings" were hogwash - and simply excuses for me to avoid ministry and give in to my nature that is perfectly content at home, not talking to or interacting with people, except on MY terms. In fact, I was convicted that my "self-fulfillment" in that sense was nothing less than sin.

So, I made that resolution and by God's grace... and a few friends and family members who help keep me accountable... I've actually followed through and maintained this practice for a significant chunk of time - volunteering at a Pregnancy Resource Center and at a wildlife rehabilitation center while back in Michigan. 

Then we moved.

It was easy to get involved in our church, Christian school and the studio ministry - for the obvious reason: THAT was why we came to Quebec - to encourage Jesus followers here and to hopefully encourage others to become Jesus followers.

Finding ways to get involved in our communities, outside the Christian communities, however, has taken a little bit of time.

Tori gave the first accountability nudge, without even realizing it! We hadn't even been here a month, I was still unpacking boxes, and she began begging to find out if there was a wildlife rehabilitation center in our area. She loved working at the A.R.K while back in Michigan (and usually requests the possibility of a shift or two when we are back in town for vacations). We did find a place to volunteer - only they only needed help from April to September. We contacted them in October. I left my name and contact information - and hoped to hear from them the following spring.

I was content to let the volunteering stay on the back burner until April - I was starting to experience the full impact of plunging 6 kids at once into a non-maternal language school system, and homework not only felt overwhelming; we were drowning in it. But Tim kept telling me about a guy he worked with at the studio, an older gentleman that volunteered, working with kids after school to do their homework. He kept saying I'd be good at something like that. That wasn't the direction I really wanted to go. I was doing enough French homework with MY OWN kids! About that same time, a refugee family (from Congo by way of Burundi) started attending our church. The idea of helping refugees sounded a lot better than homework, and the arrival of Syrian refugees was all over the news. 

So I looked on line and found a center that coordinates volunteers, filled out the application, went in for an interview, had my police check and thought I'd see lots of opportunities to help welcome newcomers to the Belle Province. Except there were none of those opportunities listed, at least none that I found. 

So I started to sign up for one-shot opportunities, to at least dip my big toe into the water and test the temperature.

I'll never forget my first volunteer experience here in Quebec. It was helping with a 5K cross country up near the military base. All the other women who looked to be about my age got to stand around and hand out bottles of water as runners passed their table. I was recruited with the 20-something crowd (Really people? Can't you see the gray roots and wrinkles?) to run up a mountain and then stand there all morning, cheering and directing runners to follow the race/right path. I stood right next to a sign that warned of the prolific presence of black bears in the area. I was a little nervous most of the morning.

Would I do it again? Possibly... ah... probably.

Tori and I did hear back from the wildlife rehab center - and volunteered there, averaging 1-2 shifts/week throughout the rehabbing season this past spring and summer. We are both looking forward to returning next spring. It is funny how in serving and caring for animals, I get an opportunity to serve, care for and love people who are passionate about wildlife and the environment.

But I knew that would be coming to an end with the beginning of a new school year...

So, I finally decided to take a peer counseling training course, thinking I could get involved that way. The first session was offered over the summer, while we were traveling - so I registered for the one slated to begin in the fall. I received my certificate in October, and am officially signed up as a trained volunteer with the "Maison de la Famille" as a peer counselor.

But what does all that have to do with using a telephone... the subject with which I started stream-of-conscious-ing way back at the beginning of this post?

Well, I picked peer counseling because it is something done in person. No one told me, until I was already signed up and given a client to contact - that THAT FIRST CONTACT was done by phone.


Today - after much fear, trepidation, procrastination and finally, prayer - I made the call.

I was able to understand and be understood.

And I've set up my first actual meeting.


Not just celebrating my phone call,
but the success my football team has experienced this season as well!

Don't expect me to say that it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. Because it was. I feel like throwing up just thinking about it, and knowing that it will be a part of every helping relationship I have through this organization.

That, however, isn't a good enough reason for me to consider not being involved... not trying to serve this community... not taking His love into this world with every tool and talent God has given me.


How are you giving back? 

Are you seeking ways to be involved, even though it may not feel natural or comfortable for you?

How are you involved with people outside of your Christian community?


  1. re "How are you giving back?" Well, Johnny and I just started a visitation ministry. :-) We see a great need here for those shut in and homebound. Thank you for asking.


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