19 April, 2012

Cool conversations and satisfying labour

Today epitomised what I enjoy about volunteering at Thrift Shop: time to connect with people and go deeper than you often do as you see friends in passing at school. Here are some snapshots of the kinds of conversations I had today:

  • Hung out with some other mums who are the only females in their family. Considered starting a club.
  • Talked with a couple of other mums about parenting, especially about teaching kids to say sorry (and don't ask me, I'm no expert).
  • I had a variety of conversations with parents of friends of my kids. I heard a funny-but-touching story about one of my sons and how good a match he is as a friend for another boy.
  • Fooled about with some folk, there were plenty of friendly joking and that was great. Life can sometimes get a bit too serious when you're a missionary.
  • I spent a short time massaging a friend's shoulders.
  • Exchanged stories with another writer about bad editing.
  • As I sorted through smelly shoes with the Elementary Principal, I reflected on what a great thing it is to see the leadership of the team willing to get their "hands dirty" and serve others.
  • I connected deeply with one friend about how challenging it is to be misunderstood because of culture expectations and differences. We concluded both that there is comfort in knowing that God understands us and that such conflicts can be good for us because they help us grow.

Well, it sounds like I didn't do any work, but that isn't true. Most of the seven hours I spent there I was working, but we girls (and some guys) can work and chat simultaneously. Although I do admit there was a decent lull in the work flow after lunch for a couple of hours, that was very handy.

I had some satisfying work-related moments too. Like helping a friend who's new to volunteering find her way around and also persuaded her to help out on Saturday when we're lacking helpers.

One cool thing is that a number of teachers bring their classes in to help out, especially PE teachers. They can be hugely helpful, or annoying, or downright unhelpful. The latter is particularly when we have to spend time undoing the mistakes they make like putting women's skirts in the baby section... I helped supervise one wonderful group of grade seven girls. And got annoyed by another older group that was quite determined to evade any work at all, in a passive-resistive way (they hid out in the back corner where I was working, happily agreed to help me hang up coats, but then did nothing about actually doing it).

We are volunteers and are therefore not paid, but the incentive is that if you work four hours you can shop early (the doors open to PTA members tomorrow and the General Public on Saturday morning). You won't believe how much never even makes it onto the floor, as we sorted we found lots of great things! Today while hanging coats I found a large-sized lab coat, texted my head-of-science-department husband and he snapped it up (most of his lab coats are Japanese-sized, i.e. tiny). Oh, and I managed to get him some preserved animal specimens too (left-over from home-schooling science).

I'll do my what-I-got blog post on the weekend, though. Time to head for bed for the we're only half-way through the Thrift Shop sprint.

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