Monday, June 21, 2010

Ogden Just Got Served! Day One

In sparing you another discussion of the frustration caused by certain men/boys in my life, I will talk about the community service mission project I've volunteered for through Bible Study. And I apologize to myself and to anyone who reads this, since my head is not in its clearest writing state at the moment, therefore things may be choppy and not fully summarize all the important stuff of the day. But I'm trying.

Anyway, it's called Serve Ogden and it's put on by Washington Heights Church. Tons of people (over 500 volunteers) are taking this week to refurbish the homes of many needy people in the Ogden area by majorly cleaning up their yards, repainting the houses, etc. Today was the first day, and so far I am definitely enjoying the experience.

The house we are working on is home to the mother and father of many kids - some adopted, some biological, of all different ages. They really just kept showing up at random times of the day like they were reproducing behind our backs, and surprising me by how big their family actually is. The mom was really nice and gave us ice cream sandwiches, making conversation while we painted their porch, and a few of the girls even wanted to chip in with the help. I will admit, the first hour of solely picking up tiny pieces of trash from all over their lawn gave me a bad first impression, but they are actually really nice and grateful we're doing this. At certain points during the day I felt like part of the Extreme Home Makeover team, which was pretty cool, but it's certainly nothing compared to what they actually do on that show.

As the project organizer said this morning, half the fun of volunteer missions is getting to know the people you're working with. I was expecting to be with a group of kids my age, but we actually ended up with more adults than college students. Everyone has a story and a personality, and in a setting like this, they're all open to making friends with whomever, no matter what your age is. I was especially delighted by the cute duo of our Bible Study leader (my brother from another mother) 's 5 year-old son and the 4 year-old of a woman on our team who's relatively new in town, who helped us rake leaves and added humor to the scene with their cutest little sayings, cause kids say the darndest things. I don't know if I will ever be able to look at a port-o-potty again without think of it as little G's "magic box."

On that note of enjoying mission projects, here's a thought: If one half comes from the relationships you build, then the other comes from that warm fuzzy feeling you get from helping others, like you swallowed a kitten, correct? Doesn't everyone do volunteer projects because it makes them feel good inside to help others? Well, call me crazy, but that sounds really selfish to me. Think about it - we're not helping people to make them happy, we're helping people because in making them happy, it makes US happy. If pleasing others causes us to feel negative emotions, it wouldn't be as contagious. So really, we're just doing it to please ourselves. Which is, therefore, very focused on the self. Not to negate volunteering in any way, of course, it's just something I've pondered on. You can't deny it makes total sense. It's a fact of life, though, we are selfish by nature.

BUT aside from that rant, volunteering is awesome and everyone should do it and make friends with old people and young people and get sprayed on with a hose, and partake in conversations about the credibility of Twilight, and have ice dropped down your shirt, and be forced to pick up dead birds. Ok ... that last part isn't so desirable, but you get the point. It's an experience worth having.

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