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the mommyhood memos: ahoy matey: getting your kids involved in volunteerism

Monday, June 28, 2010

ahoy matey: getting your kids involved in volunteerism

My husband and I have a firm belief that children should grow up knowing what it means to reach out to and serve others – particularly the poor and needy. Although Levi is certainly not at an age yet where he can comprehend something like this, we want him to be involved in volunteerism from the get go… so that this will be something he naturally learns and grows into.

We believe that as we model this in our family he will see that it’s not only good and right, but also lots of fun and so fulfilling! And of course we hope that someday, it will be his own convictions that motivate and drive him to extend himself and help others, and that he’ll find his own unique expression for it.

Recently we had the opportunity get a little taste of life on the high seas as we bunked in on YWAM’s Medical Ship. YWAM is the organization that we are full-time volunteers with, though most of our work as a couple is centered on training young people in leadership and volunteerism. Normally our work keeps us on the land, but it was so much fun to see first hand the ins and outs of how our field staff live as they travel on the ship into places like Papua New Guinea to provide health care to those in need (primarily optometry and dentistry and primary health care).

Our little sailing trip took us up the coast of Queensland and lasted only a night and a day… but in a few weeks the ship will take off to PNG for outreach and medical work, which will be ongoing throughout the next 5+ years. As a family we are working in Australia to aid in this happening… but that doesn’t mean we won’t jump at the chance to join them in PNG when the opportunity arises. (Perhaps later this year or next??)

If you’re interested in more, please take a minute to check out this news report that just did a feature on us:

And now for a bit about how the sail went with little bubby…

Basically in a nutshell, it was fantastic!

It was a nice sail – fairly uneventful, which is a good thing—no doubt—when you’re out on the ocean! We all stayed well (thankfully no sea sickness!) and we were given a single cabin to bunk into, which was awesome. It was tiny, tiny, tiny… but compared to where many of the single staff were staying, we had a deluxe suite! Levi and I shared a bed and Ryan spread out a mattress on the floor.

Levi had the best sleep he’s had in ages. (Thank you rolling waves and rocking ship!) And despite being on the floor, Ryan also had the best sleep he’s had in a while (thanks to Levi not waking up nearly as much as he had been the week before – woohoo!). And me? Well, not so good... I was too afraid of rolling over on Levi or him getting smothered by my pillow or blankets so I slept very lightly and fitfully all night. (No co-sleeping on a regular basis for this little family!)

But, in saying all that… it was amazing! Our time was so much more than just about the sleeping arrangements (though I know you’ll love these photos of our little space). We got to spend some quality time with some of the ship crew and get to know them more. We got to see first hand how our “field staff” will be living (which means we’ll better be able to support from our base in Australia). And we got to have a little adventure together as a family. (We so hope that Levi can grow up with outreach as a normal part of his life – and not just on special occasions.)

(This photo used courtesy of YWAM Ships.)

Oh, I should also mention here that throughout the Australian tour we’ve gathered literally thousands of pairs of eye glasses and raised thousands of dollars for the work among the poor in PNG. It’s such a delight to see the dream of lives being touched through care and compassion coming true in such a tangible way. (Please contact me if you’d like to get involved by donating some of your used spectacles or sunnies!)

We feel so honored to be a part of this incredible work, even if ours is a small part.

Dear mommy friends, we all want our kids to grow up unselfishly and learn how to lend a hand to those in need… So how do you get your kids involved in reaching out into your community and beyond? I’d love to hear some more ideas – let’s inspire each other!

P.S. Not sure how to fix the edge of those videos from being cut off... sorry about that!

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At June 28, 2010 at 5:59 AM , Blogger Cameron said...

Seriously I think it is so interesting that we found each other through the blog world! Yesterday you were saying I posted something you had been thinking about & today you posted something I had been thinking about! I'm still working on a post about service & giving & how to model those values for our children. We've always felt strongly about teaching our children to give to others. One example is at Christmas, we always want our daughter (and any future children) to pick out a child from one of the organizations that gives names of children who need Christmas gifts. We want to try to have them save all year to have money to buy these gifts & then we would help them buy gifts for a child. We just want them always to be aware of the people around them.

Thankfully we are a part of a really wonderful church community who have really reached out in all areas of our local community. Our church actually has raised money & opened 2 free health & dental clinics in our community. It's amazing. So we have plenty of opportunities to serve close to home & we look forward to doing all kinds of these volunteer activities as a family. We want it to be a regular part of our family life.

And I have a question - what are sunnies? I'm guessing sunglasses?? Since you said spectacles first. I'm totally not familiar with all the aussie lingo! LOL but I'd love to find a way to help you all!!

At June 28, 2010 at 10:13 AM , Anonymous Heidi Danos said...

What an adventure! And, kudos on promoting the concerns that are, obviously near and dear to your heart, and sharing them with your family. All the best to you!!

At June 28, 2010 at 11:43 AM , Blogger Getrealmommy said...

Wow good for you! I think it is a great thing that you are doing, and also that you are sharing with your son!

At June 28, 2010 at 12:45 PM , Blogger Big Fat Mama said...

Very inspiring!!

At June 28, 2010 at 1:30 PM , Blogger The Planet Pink said...

What a fun adventure! I travelled to PNG as part of a missions team in college, it's truly a beautiful and at times, heartbreaking country. A real eye opening experience for sure.

As for teaching kids about service, I believe they learn best by example. When a child grows up in an environment that is wholly devoted to seeking out and meeting the needs of others rather than themselves, it naturally becomes a part of them. Obviously at some point an individual decision must be made to continue with the culture of service, but after a childhood of knowing nothing else the foundation is already set.

At June 28, 2010 at 7:09 PM , Blogger Cassandra said...

I think it is wonderful what you are doing and teaching your son, and I couldn't agree with you more! It starts at a young age. My daughter is only 2 but we have gone every thanksgiving and every christmas to serve meals to homeless people, in addition to picking out gifts and doing a few small things throughout the year. last christmas she was only 19 months but I could tell she was benefitting from doing it and helping out. And for the past couple months she has been asking me when we can go back and "feed the people in the park who need it" lol.

anyway, I think it's great what you are modeling for your son and teaching him! And he is sooo cute!

At June 28, 2010 at 9:58 PM , Blogger Asashia said...

My family has many opportunities for service through our church. We just choose from the list and go! Hopefully, we can do this consistently so that Little Bit can follow the verse of training in the way he should go and not turn from it.

At June 28, 2010 at 10:33 PM , Blogger Angel Armogida said...

Hey, I love your blog. I'm following!

Angel x
High Heels & Lipgloss

At June 30, 2010 at 1:20 PM , Blogger Bargain Mom said...

Stop by from MBC. Now following!

At August 24, 2010 at 2:18 AM , Blogger Livy said...

Hey Adriel,

I just was looking through your archives. I didn't realize you guys worked for YWAM. That is so cool. I've always wanted to work on the medical ship (I am a lab tech), but sadly don't see how this will be possible in the near future with all of our student debt. My BIL went to YWAM in Australia about 5 years ago.


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