I have been working here at Gleaning for the World for almost a year and a half off and on. I started as a temp worker and then went to Thailand for about five months and just recently came back from my trip. I absolutely love my job, I love the high pace energy that it requires from me and the challenge of organizing and packing things appropriately. I love interacting with all of the volunteers and community service workers we have who come through these doors. It is a fantastic experience. Its amazing to know that what I touch and send out is literally saving lives all over the world.
Yet since I am such a perfectionist and such a task oriented person, sometimes I tend to forget the big picture. We send out “life-saving” supplies out all over the world. Top notch, state of the art, high quality items that even surgeons who have come through our doors have said “wow, you all are getting expensive high quality medical items through here”. Lately I personally have put the weight of the world on my shoulders about getting all this product out of the door as quickly and as efficiently as possible. I live it. I dream it. I do it. That is my day.
What is the big picture you might ask. Well the big picture comes down simply to people. We are created to be with people. We are helping people. Loving people. We are trying to get along with people.
When I look at the volunteers who come through these doors I automatically assess them on their ability to work. Can they stand? Can they see expiration dates? Can they organizes? Can they follow instruction? Do they ask questions? The list goes on and on.
Well last night I had a group of twenty or so volunteers who came through the door. I am greeting them and automatically knowing where I am putting each one to make our sort process with food as efficient as possible (if you know our food sorts you would understand what a feat this is). As they are signing into the volunteer log I overlooked two women standing in the corner. One was an older lady who could barely walk and the other was younger holding her arm. I just assumed they were in the group and were waiting for someone else so I get the group started. After about ten minutes one of my other volunteers realized that they were still standing there so she approached them.
My volunteer introduces them to me and said they were interested in volunteering.Immediately I assess them and think “band-aides” which is basically our go to sort and pack for older volunteers who need to sit down. I rated her ability to walk and hear immediately because I could tell the older lady was hard of hearing. I will be completely honest with my thoughts. I thought, “I am super busy, can’t you see that with all these people asking me questions and running around!” Then my volunteer (who happens to have the biggest heart of gold) told me that the older lady had lost her husband only 3 months ago and needed people to talk to and start volunteering. Immediately my heart sank and my tears welled up. I went from busy volunteer coordinator to a real human being that cared. I noticed something else about this small older woman. She was just barely standing and hard of hearing. Her eyes were sad but caring, her heart was heavy but willing. She smiled ever so slightly at me and I could tell she was searching to see if I cared.
The crazy thing is, this is the third time I am writing this and once again I am crying. That brief moment of talking to this woman put the entire world back into perspective for me. We are placed on this earth to love people and take the time for people. If we get too busy “doing things” then we miss the whole point of why we are doing it. God wants us to love and care for people to honor and glorify Him. He is our ultimate boss. He is our provider and sustainer. He is the one that we answer to. He is the one who controls all things.
I had forgotten how to love people, I have been so busy doing what I do well that I forgot to care.
Here at Gleaning for the World we send out life-saving supplies to help save lives. Yet the truth is, for each volunteer who comes through this door, you never know if they spiritually, emotionally or physically might need their life saved. For every community service worker who needs to get back on track, for the individuals in church groups who might be hurting deep inside, for the business groups who want to make a difference, the LCA students who want to do their part in changing the world, and for the little old lady who needs to get her mind off of losing her husband….I want to be there for them. I want to serve them because I want to serve God. I want to love like He has loved. I want to share like He has shared His own blood for me. I am here to help. I am here to learn. I am here to love.
Instead of looking at volunteers as packers and shippers I want to look at them as people….anywhere from that young youth group teen wanting to text on their cell phone to the old lady standing in the corner…..