The Most Memorable Experience
What was the most memorable experience you had this year?
One of the most memorable volunteering events that I have joined was mulching at a local park.
I went with my church small group and to be honest with you, I didn’t think I would like it at first.
You see, I always grew up in the City. I am a city gal, through and through.
I like the clean and modern feel of the city, and I don’t like things like gardening or farming or fishing.
I don’t like getting my hands dirty with things, and I am used to the comforts that city life is able to give me.
But that day, I found myself hands and knee deep in mulch. And I was smiling! What happened?
Serving Outside of My Comfort Zone
It was a cold winter morning.
It was early, so I wasn’t in the greatest mood and I honestly wasn’t expecting much from the event.
I already had a grumbling heart when we started and I didn’t want to put down my hot Starbucks coffee to pick up a shovel and some mulch.
Our main project was putting mulch around the trees, but there were other tasks involved, like taking off the weeds and dead leaves. Before this, I had never heard of mulching. I didn’t know there was so much involved in taking care of a park!
The park department official led us through the steps, teaching us how to use equipment like rakes, shovels, work gloves, and gave us short instructions of what we would need to do.
The first task was to remove the trash, dead leaves, weeds, and big rocks from the area that we were going to mulch. After that, we would remove piles of old mulch with shovels and barrows, and we moved the new mulch pile and applied the mulch around the tree areas. So we took turns unloading the new mulch and spreading them.
All the tasks were pretty new to me and afterward, I was pretty exhausted…
But I was happy.
Finding Joy in Something New
Why? Because I knew that our work today would make many other people happy.
I thought about the kids that would enjoy this park with their friends and family. I thought about the groups that could now have nice picnics on these grass areas and receive shade from the trees during the hot summer. I thought about the seniors who walk around this park every morning as part of their daily routines.
I thought about God, who created all creation — including the trees and ground we worked on today.
And once I started thinking about others and God, I stopped thinking about myself. I didn’t think about the dirt getting onto my clothes, or how tired my muscles were, or how I would probably smell like dirt and grass for a long time after this.
Before, I could’ve been bothered by those things but I was not. Because volunteering isn’t for ‘me’. It’s for others.
What I Learned
Do I still love the City? Yes! But now, I have grown a greater heart of love towards nature because I love God and nature is His creation. I realized how wrong I was for not appreciating what God has created.
If I didn’t like being around nature and if I couldn’t appreciate nature, a clear representation of God’s work and power, then how could I appreciate anything else that comes from God?
If I couldn’t think about other people more than myself to serve and volunteer, then how could I give myself wholeheartedly to God and set my mind on the things above, not on the earthly things?
By continuing to expand my heart through volunteer opportunities with my church, San Francisco Zion Church, I have grown to appreciate God’s creation and His invisible qualities within nature more. I have also grown to appreciate the many people who have always silently worked to do what I did, do it better, and do it with a great heart.
I truly believe this is what volunteering and serving can do for us. As we agree to serve others, God helps us to help ourselves and become a better person. I have many memories of myself in the City, enjoying the comforts of the world and what I’m used to.
But today, if you ask me for my favorite and most memorable experience of this year, then without hesitation, I can say that this volunteering opportunity takes first place. I’m thankful I was able to experience this kind of change in view through volunteering, and I look forward to doing so again and again.