I struggle, sometimes, with caring too much about what people think of me. Occasionally, I get a “bad vibe” from someone about my mission work, and I let it get me down. So this blog posting is going to be a little bit of a “venting” session, a little bit of a thank you note for my supporters and a little bit of a self-pep-talk.
First, let me say that I am soooo thankful for the friends and family members who obviously “get” me. I don’t think I’m that complicated of a person. With me, what you see is pretty much what you get… but I tend to not share every single thought and feeling that scampers across my brain. I don’t go on and on about my convictions or my passion for this mission work that I have come to love. Maybe that’s why it’s so stinkin’ heartwarming to hear someone say that they admire what I do, or to have them ask detailed questions about my experiences and be truly interested in my answers.
My husband understands. He’s proud of me and he tells me so. He also tells stories about my experiences and talks about our sponsor student, Yasiri, like a proud Papa – even though he’s never met her and probably never will.
My family members understand. They provide me with financial and emotional support to help make each trip happen. My parents are elderly, and when the time came to make my last trip (May 2014) I worried that one of them would have an emergency while I was on my trip and I would have to make miracles happen to get back to the States. I even lectured my Mom that she was not allowed to fall while I was gone! She didn’t. Thanks, Mom!
My church members understand. Even though I am not a regular attender of services at Faith Christian Church, they have adopted me and my Dominican mission work as an official project of the church. They put a suitcase in the foyer and collect shoes and toiletries for me to take to the villages. In the Spring, I am going to be a featured speaker on a Mission Sunday… sharing my Power Point slides to show people how much they are helping others in a far away country.
My employer and some of my co-workers understand. St. Rita’s Medical Center kindly provides a 50% match of the vacation days I use to take my trip. If I take 6 vacation days, they give me 3 more to help make the trip happen. Believe me, when you only get a limited number of days off each year, every little bit helps! Two years ago, many of the physicians I work with donated enough funds to completely cover the cost of my trip… a total of about $2,000. Last year and this year, several of the physicians and my co-workers have purchased the necklaces I make and sell for $10 each, which goes right into my mission expense account at the bank.
My good friends and neighbors understand. They collect toiletries, suitcases and shoes all through the year. They buy my mission necklaces. They ask questions and they tell me they’re proud to know me. They allow me to use space in their storage unit for organizing the items slated to go on the next trip! In some ways, I feel like I’m an ambassador of all these groups. I try to be a shining light, representing my family, friends, church, neighbors and co-workers when I go to the Dominican Republic.
Even with all this positive energy and support, I feel sad that there are some people who find it necessary to make negative comments or criticize my work. It makes me mad that I let a small number of people with small minds bother me. But I do. Maybe it’s human nature… maybe it’s just my nature.
So, to the vocal few who think my time would be better spent helping people closer to home, or who find fault with my ongoing fund-raising efforts, or who think I’m boasting when I’m really just enthusiastically sharing my experiences… I wish you could find a passion in your life that you could feel as strongly about as I do. I hope someday you find a cause that you think about every day and dedicate most of your extra time and energy toward… and I hope when that day comes, that you will have the support of the people around you and will understand how hurtful a random criticism can be.
As for me, there’s a tiny little light in my heart… and I’m gonna let it shine.