Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Blessings of Serving Others

Magic Moments That Come From Serving Others: Sharing a Happy Memory

Lessons we never expect
Many years ago I was interpreting for a family attending a school I worked at. They were one of many families that I've helped along the way, yet I never saw them again. I had hoped that someday I would get the chance to help them again, but you just never know for sure in these circumstances. You just do as you can and try to be at peace. This post is just my experience with one of those situations that ended up coming around full circle...a family I meant in one brief moment...a moment that lasted longer than I ever thought it would.

This family had a heartbreaking story. Mom was coming to a meeting to set up “homebound” education services for her child who was fighting cancer. She would come to school when she could, and do school at home at other times. I did all I could in this meeting. I would gladly have done anything they needed me to do, but sadly this was just one of those instances where there was only so much I could do. I could interpret…I could be empathetic…I could keep her in my thoughts, and most importantly my prayers…but there was nothing else I could do. At the end of the meeting, I promised her that I would be available for her if she ever needed my help. I would always be available to interpret, being just a phone call away, but not many more meetings occurred in subsequent years. Her daughter succumbed to her illness. This young child had lost her battle with cancer.

The school reached out to the family to offer their help. I remember hearing how amazed everyone who came in contact with this family was by their reaction. They displayed what seemed to be an endless outpouring of gratitude for all the efforts the school put forth. It was almost as if they were consoling us. The school had collected some money to try and assist with funeral arrangements, but their level of appreciation and concern for us overshadowed any of our efforts for them. These were such good people. I prayed and prayed for them. It made me long to do more for them. I wanted to do more for this mother. Unfortunately, the opportunity didn't materialize for me then. It wasn't time yet.

The echoes of kindness
Years passed and I was talking to one of my many friends that worked in the school's cafeteria. This particular school I worked at was blessed with an amazing group of ladies that always went above and beyond in caring for our students and their families. I just adored them all! This particular year, they added some new staff members with hearts and smiles that fit right in with the rest of the crew. The school year was coming to an end and we were rehearsing the 5th grade graduation celebration in our cafeteria. It included a video of all the 5th graders during this transitional year, as they went from elementary to middle school. So many bright and smiling faces…our children growing up.

After one of the rehearsals, a cafeteria worker approached me asking if I could help her again. Again? I didn't think much of it. She then asked if the videos were done every year and inquired just how far back they went. I did a bit of mental math, and happily answered. She wanted to know if the video of her daughter's 5th grade graduation from several years back (five years to be exact) still existed. Let me explain that in school time, five years is FOREVER. Between new technology adoption (and technology exodus), the occasional “everything got erased” or occasional hardware failure, and the obvious challenge of where to even look, this search was going to be difficult considering how far back in time we had to travel. However, I’m an optimist. I could definitely take a crack at this. Anything is possible. =)

I told her that I honestly could not promise anything, but I would be happy to investigate and do my very best. I had a few leads along with some names in mind of those that could maybe send me in the right direction. She told me at that moment that it would mean SO MUCH to her if I could help, but she didn't want me to get it trouble. Bah, I told her “don’t be silly.” She then said "you've always been so nice to me and I hate to ask more of you" and that was when it hit me.

I thought she was just a sentimental parent (I can't fault her for that), but then the details clicked. Her face had seemed so familiar, so friendly, and warm to me throughout the year, but it hadn't registered before then. I knew this mom! It was THAT MOM!!!! It was HER!! She’d been part of our school family as a parent, and then returned years later to serve other children as one of our staff, at the SAME school her daughter attended before passing away (I'm still in awe of that). Thank you Lord for this chance to serve again! I would absolutely look! It would be my pleasure! I had the chance to do more and I would do more!!!!!

I knew that if anyone could dig anything up, it was my friend the technology specialist at our school. We sat down together and started doing some detective work. If these files still existed, where would they be? Staring at a computer screen and scanning through countless videos, pictures, and PowerPoint presentations is not all that exciting, but the results were more than I ever expected. At the end of our search, we had joyfully found not just a few pictures or a video, we had found a treasure trove. My friend had dug up video clips, digital images, PowerPoint presentations, and even the choreography video that was played during her daughter’s 5th grade graduation so many years ago.

Life's little "Magic Moments"
My friend put it all together on DVD and I made sure to introduce her (the tech hero that made this all possible) to this sweet mother so she could present her this gift herself. Tears filled the mom’s eyes. She was so happy (sidebar: This happens to be my kryptonite, so I had to eventually excuse myself before I started getting way too misty eyed and emotional). My point in sharing this story is to encourage you to seize the moments we are offered to serve others. Some are little, others may be big, but regardless, the act of service is more than just a blessing to others…we are blessed as well.

My small role in this all made my heart sing. I sincerely love helping families with anything I possibly can. Aside from the blessing we offer to others and the how your own heart grows from this experience, always remember who may be watching you, most importantly your children. You never know how your actions may echo over time and who they may touch or how deeply they may be affected. Always seek to serve others in some way. Teach your children to do the same through your actions, not just words. Few lessons in life are as valuable as this and fewer still can offer this fulfilling of a reward.