On our very last day of another year of Global Women we traveled to the Edinburgh Outlet Mall and I learned two things; one extremely annoying and one extremely satisfying.
I learned that my Fitbit records no steps taken when pushing a wheelchair or carrying a shopping bag. I presume that means it counts no steps taken when carrying my purse, my briefcase, grocery bags, laundry basket, garden tools or anything else in my left hand. And pushing a wheelchair? Shouldn’t I get double steps for that? I can’t begin to count the steps I have been denied credit!
But Global Women - what a joy! My son, Ben, went along for the Chinese speaking practice and was quickly shuffled into the Chinese only SUV. The two grandmas in the group fawned over him all day. Yzh and her mama are having him over to cook tomorrow.
Our day ended with tears as we said good-bye to a friend headed home to Turkey. We’ll likely never see each other again this side of heaven. Standing in the church parking lot she hugged us all many times. Pointing to the building she said in her own beautiful English, “I think maybe you don’t know what you are doing here. It’s is just so . . . . . . wonderful. Wonderful.” Then we hugged and cried a little more.
But I do know. I know that every Tuesday afternoon we rebel against the way of the world by inviting strangers from around the world to sit together and simply listen. To hear and see through the eyes and accents of other women what life is like in places we might otherwise only know through news reports. Or not at all. Until two years ago I’d never met a soul from Sri Lanka and now I know four. Samitha came to our program and brought her mama and her little girl. Once I went to her house and met her husband. We drank tea and ate cake. The crafts and the games and the cooking keep our hands busy and the English flowing but what counts are the hearts and souls being knit together by threads that stretch the globe and the years.
And while the soul of ministry can’t be meaningfully be conveyed with numbers, the math is pretty remarkable. All these figures are conservative and approximate.
- 375 = number of women who have visited at least once in last 15 years. (25 women per year x 15 years) Does not include kids, parents, husbands.
- 20 = home countries of GWG friends (including Japan, China, South Korea, Indonesia,India, Turkey, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Eucador, Columbia, Mexico, Russia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, France, Germany, Spain)
- 8 = number UBC members involved in weekly GWG programming over past 15 years.
- 2800 = program hours donated by ubc members over past 15 years. (48 program hours per year x 4 volunteers x 15 years)
- 1440 = additional hours donated by members for program prep and outreach (4 hours perprogram x 24 programs per year x 15 years)
- $6000 = amount of money spent by UBC members on GWG. ($400 per year x 15 years, at least half donated by GWG volunteers)
- $16.60 = average cost of providing one weekly GWG program.
Friends, this is not a shabby record for any church and an outstanding one for a church our size. While it’s not much money ~ what an amazing amount of time, energy and creativity. A gift for which I have never had to beg, borrow or steal because it flows so freely from the handful of members called to this ministry over the years. And I really don’t care about the numbers. I care that someone came within our reach and left in tears of joy and gratitude for having been truly welcomed by people who call ourselves Christians. Someone from a place that rarely receives positive press goes home deeply impressed by the kindness and love with which she was treated here.
So even if my walking steps didn’t count for much the ministry steps did. Yesterday in the church parking lot was one of those few times in ministry I was struck with the sense, “Yes, this is exactly right. This is what truly counts.” Or as Gonul said it, “Wonderful. Wonderful.”
How privileged I am to be granted the invitation to participate in this corner of kingdom work with the likes of Heidi, Julia, Joyce and Lisa and the other 375 friends we have made over the years.
~ peace & prayers, pastor annette