Sunday, March 14, 2010

Farewell to a Volunteer

I met Bill and Corriene Thompson in 2005 when they registered their granddaughter, Leah, in the kindergarten/first grade class that I oversaw at the time. They had just moved to Salem from California in an effort to breathe some cleaner air. I didn't know much about Bill and Corriene's background, but they soon became involved in Children's Ministries. Bill responded to our request for help in setting up the rooms each Saturday (he joined another grandpa in our ministry in this task) and Corriene came in to the church offices once a month to help take care of small group prep. It wasn't long until they both offered to oversee check-in every other month for their Leah's class.

Bill and Corriene both told me at different times that they wanted to make sure that even though Leah was being raised by her grandparents, they didn't want her to feel like she missed out on any exciting kid activities. I can still picture a Friday afternoon when Bill and Leah stopped in at the office to drop something off, dressed in snow pants. "We're headed to the mountain to ski!" Bill excitedly told me as Leah grinned next to him. "But we're starting to think maybe we should have waited until we got there to put on the snow pants."

Despite struggling with emphysema, Bill was faithful in helping with the weekly set up up. One of the times I was checking in with him and Bob (the other grandpa), Bill was hauling stacks of chairs and wheezing along the way. When I asked if he needed me to help, he said he was happy to do it and would take it at a pace he could handle. He was worried the chairs might fall and hurt me if I tried to move them.

It wasn't until a conversation with Corriene a few years later that I found out how specifically God designed their move to Oregon. Corriene was not a believer when they moved here, and Bill hadn't grown in his walk since he was young. But they knew they wanted to try to do things right in raising Leah, so they brought her to church. It was at one of our women's Bible studies that Corriene accepted the Lord, and Bill rededicated his life soon after.

This past summer, Bill was diagnosed with lung cancer, and a mighty battle began. I loved the joy and peace he showed, and he joked about how much he missed his hair (which I'm sure had already thinned years before). He still came to help with check in the weeks he wasn't suffering too much from the chemo and radiation treatments. Corriene came faithfully to help with prep. And then in September, Bill chose to be baptized again (he had done it 55 years before, but felt he needed to show his re-commitment). I watched in tears as he shared his testimony, and his wife watched with proud tears streaming down her face.

This past Tuesday, March 10, 2010, Bill went home to be with Jesus. I know I will miss him, and I can't imagine the loss Corriene and Leah are feeling. But I can only think with joy about the life this man ended with--what a testimony he lived before his granddaughter.

View his obituary (which he wrote) here.


Tonight I asked Jared (our Elementary Pastor) if he needs me to do anything on Easter in Adventure Mountain (K-3rd class). He said "no, we have it all covered."

Why is this so great? Maybe because my first weekend back after 2 months off happens to be Easter weekend. I haven't done much more than slow walking since January, and leading active motions for worship would be quite the wake up call. Or maybe the biggest reason this is great is because it means he's doing a good job!

So that means Easter weekend I'll be hanging out at the check-in station for three of the four services, greeting families and enjoying being back. And that fourth service I'll be attending with my husband. Ah...

Monday, March 8, 2010

Finally Transitioning!

January 1, 2010 marked the day that I was no longer a full time employee of Morning Star Community church. I had been looking forward to that day long before I started the job. The hope of that day went as far back as my dream of becoming a mom. It was a beautiful day! I went from working four full days in the office to working three, three hour mornings.

The first week brought slightly longer days than intended, but I expected that to happen. It wasn't for a lack of planning or productivity with my time. It was simply adjusting all of our thinking toward when to have conversations and what to cover as soon as I got to work rather than putting it off in the day.

I loved being able to focus my time on the big picture and not having the small tasks that had filled my time before. It was amazing how much my desire and passion for working increased. In a time that I thought I'd be anxious to be done, I found my love for my job renewed. I was also blessed by watching Jared step right into his role of being the full time, elementary pastor. Little issues that would have been mine to deal with were handled smoothly by him. The volunteer who was taking care of all of our elementary prep needed to step down because of an upcoming move, so she trained someone else to take over her role. But that person ended up falling through and we had to find someone new to fill the role and train them as well. And know what? I didn't have to do a thing!

Lucy also was quick to make sure anything I was doing wasn't something that could be handled by her. I left masters to be copied on her desk, and the number of fliers needed would be there on the weekend. Jan, my assistant, trained with me on setting up and running our check-in system on Sunday mornings. After one week of showing her what to do, I arrived at church and found her in the process of setting everything up. It was wonderful to not need to bend over with my big belly to get cords and computers out of a box!

My team repeatedly proved why I knew twelve months before that this transition would be a smooth one. And when February 2 (the first day after my due date that would have been a work day) brought labor pains, I was able to focus completely on welcoming my son knowing there wasn't anything else I needed to do at the office.

We're just over half way through my maternity leave, and my team has made me so proud. This past month hasn't been without its out of the ordinary circumstances and stressful situations. But with every update or conversation to get my feedback, I have been left with even more confidence in how they're running things in my absence. It makes me look forward to going back!

Transitioning: Working Ahead

Wow! This post comes three months after the last! And as much as I'd like to blame it on the baby, two of those months were before he was born. Our transition has happened, and I'm slightly past the halfway point of my maternity leave, so it's about time I conclude this series.

My white board is a staple in my office. I don't think many of the dreams I've had over the past four years could have been thought through without it. Key events couldn't have happened without this board helping organize me. Many creative sessions have been charted out on this board. Visitors to my office are always surprised by how much they can find written there. It was only fitting that the white board be key in helping with our staffing transition.

Three months before my schedule change and four months before maternity leave, I charted out everything that needed to be done and everything I wanted to do over the upcoming months. I first divided it into four columns--October, November, December and January. At the top of each column I listed every event (aside from usual weekend services) happening in that month--family movie nights, volunteer bunko games, volunteer training events, baby dedications, Christmas, etc. In the box below the calender events, I listed each event and what needed to be done for it--purchase requisitions, room requisitions, publicity, etc. as well as time-lined out when I needed to train my team on duties they'd cover for me in my absence, or permanently. And finally, the box below that held goals I had of what I'd like to get accomplished for the future--VBS planning, room decorating, etc. These items were non-essentials.

The month of January was different from the others in that it contained only a few items and none of them depended on me (aside from training my assistant in running check in on Sunday mornings). The idea was that I could go into labor on any day and just not show up to work and everything would continue without a hitch.

Our team has a weekly meeting where we go over highlights from the weekend and plan ahead for future events. These meetings became a time to check in on the white board and check off items we'd accomplished and look at what we needed to plan for. It helped my team understand what all I was thinking of and kept us on the same page as we moved forward. It also let them know what goals I was setting for myself. Even though I didn't come close to accomplishing all of them, it held me accountable to making efforts to achieve them.

By the time January 1 arrived, and my hours reduced dramatically, it was easy to make the change. Which leads me to my next post... Finally Transitioning!

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