My amazing actors after their Nativity play.
Catie Gibbons is spending a year in the United Kingdom as part of the ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission program. To support Catie, click here. To support another of the more than 240 ELCA missionaries in the global church, click here.
“I missed you while you were away, Catie!” one of my precious kids proclaimed as she walked into Girl’s Brigade this evening. I was only gone for a week on a short retreat with other Time for God and Young Adults in Global Mission volunteers, but my little friend missed me and my heart hurt just thinking about how much we would miss one another when I’ve been gone for weeks, months, and years from my placement in England.
So many times I get asked here by people in the community, “What are you doing here?” They assume I’m here studying at one of Manchester’s nice universities, or sometimes they assume I’m a parent of one of the fellow kids in their child’s Sunday school class. I can totally understand the change in their faces when I explain a bit about being a volunteer. Usually it just ends up in me trying to describe this whole experience in a few phrases which is virtually impossible.
Although I can’t put to words the “what” of volunteering, I can certainly pin down a lot of the “whys.” I get reminded of why I volunteer daily when children I work with run up to show me their loose or missing teeth or beg to play a game I’ve shown them. When kids in the art club I run exclaim, “Cool! I didn’t know we could make things like that!” There’re so many little reminders of the “why” of volunteering that I see on the surface level, which I hope hold deeper significance on other levels for them.
When my little friend told me she missed me while I was away, I was reminded of all the others who still miss me currently. Being away from family and close friends for half a year is not easy. However, I can absolutely see the worth of my work, and as the rest of my year of service goes by, I hope I can expect seeds of enrichment to be planted in my work here that continue to shape my community even after I’m gone.
Because that’s why I’m here. And that’s why I volunteer.