Thursday, March 15, 2007

Journal of a Living Lady #294

Nancy White Kelly

My laptop is out of town and I am with it. It isn’t easy writing a column on the road, but it is against my nature to miss deadlines. The last time my column was lost in cyberspace, two faithful readers called my oncologist to see if I was still living. She was good natured about it. Citing the new HIPAA regulations, she told those two people to “call Mrs. Kelly and ask her if she’s alive or dead.”

Just a few months ago I was in total kidney failure and flirting with the death angel. Today I am not only alive, but thriving.

Buddy and I are in Missouri. We are with several friends who are volunteering for a week with an international, faith-based organization called CEF. To discourage distractions, there are no televisions or telephones in our modest dorm rooms. We are up by 6:00 a.m. and hit the bed dog-tired by early evening. While there aren’t any children or inmates at the campus headquarters, we are greatly involved with those who work with them day-to-day. Likewise, we have supportive friends like Larry and Carol Chandler who volunteered to care for our dog and horse while we are away.

Today Carla Bowen and I have typed hundreds of names and addresses into a database. Mailing labels will expedite the sending of requested study materials. Carla’s husband, Ted, and my Buddy have been assembling desks for the administrative staff. During lulls in the building and maintenance schedule, Buddy helps others grade the Bible-study worksheets submitted by children from around the world. Hand-written, encouraging notes are added to the tests along with smiley-face stickers. Nancy Gadsby, a Hiawassee resident, uses her bi-lingual ability to write to Spanish-speaking correspondents.

Other Georgia and North Carolina locals, Walter, Ann, Betty, Howard, Rosemary, Peggy, Elisabeth, Oskar, Gunter, Helga, Erika, and Dale cheerfully contribute their labor and skills to various tasks. Many of these have been to the CEF headquarters before and plan to return.

Buddy and I are happy for the opportunity to participate, yet we are weary. Neither of us has put in a full days work in years. We miss our naps. We miss watching O’Reilly. We miss home-cooking.

While we have a renewed appreciation of retirement, Buddy and I don’t regret volunteering at CEF. Not at all. It is a small sacrifice, knowing that one week of our lives could make a profound difference in the lives of hundreds of spiritually-thirsty inmates and children. If you’d like a similar opportunity, write and I’ll put you in touch with Child Evangelism Fellowship.

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