I work with volunteers. More to the point, I work with people.
If you work with people, too, you know that about 95% of the feedback you get is the negative stuff. And that's on a good day. It can be disheartening.
Last year I worked with a dad and daughter who wanted to set up a spring break trip. The daughter was a high school senior, and she wanted to go into orphan care after graduation. I was able to connect them with a ministry doing wonderful things with orphans with special needs in Central America. It was a pretty low-key event for me, though the dad (first time abroad for himself and his daughter) asked lots of good questions and was pretty nervous as departure time approached.
Last week I got this email from the dad out of the blue.
Last year on this day, you took time to call, answer my never ending list of questions, and took time to pray for my daughter and I as we prepared to take a trip to ____________.
There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about that week. Things I learned, things I saw, and how incredibly clueless I was about things outside the states.
Early this past Tuesday morning, I drove my daughter to Chicago for another flight to ____________. This time she is going as an intern for the next six months. She will work and help the kids there at _________________.
Thanks so much,
This sort of thing makes my work feel significant. It breaks into the monotony of monitoring account balances and holding for hours with various embassies with a joyful announcement:
"These trips can change lives!! It's not just visa requirements and luggage allotments! God can use these trips to Change. Lives. Eternally!"
It helps drown out the frustration of bureaucracy and politics. It helps to balance out the other 95%.
This email was a great reminder to me to be louder with my praise than with my criticism.
The praise matters.