The first major snowfall landed Saturday, and on that same day the Lincoln Lutheran Community Outreach Team chalked up a few of “firsts” of its own in a partnership with Tabitha. It was the first time some of the crew delivered Meals-on-Wheels to the home-bound. It was the first time some of the crew spent a couple of hours visiting with elderly or singing piano tunes. And, for a few of our international students, it was the first encounter with snow. For all involved, it was a great reminder that God brings us together to share his love through service.
A group of parents joined 18 students inside with those students visiting and sharing stories of snowy days, holidays and days gone by. Four other students joined Mr. Stoltenow shoveling sidewalks and making local runs for Meals-on-Wheels.
“I have shoveled snow before, but I have never delivered meals or even considered what it takes to get 500 meals out to the Lincoln community,” said Mr. Stoltenow. “What a great service Tabitha provides. It is amazing that they never skip a day – 365 days a year. I learned that some volunteers do this on a regular basis. That is commitment to loving your neighbor more than yourself!”
Like previous partnerships, the COT efforts went beyond Saturday’s service. The team prayed for Tabitha’s ministry all month long, the team enclosed a donation check with a card of appreciation and the team provided some fellowship time before and after the service.
Before the event, Senior Sam Otte led devotions at school before the group served. In it, he shared a story of dishtowels. The towels were a reminder that serving like Christ means finding joy in service to others; and, that service calls for our best.
“I believe that after this service event at Tabitha, the whole group can agree that service can come in a variety of ways.” Otte said. “Whether it was shoveling snow, painting fingernails, visiting with the elderly people, I think I can say that we can serve in many different ways, not for us, but for others.
After the event, some students went to lunch while Mr. Stoltenow and the Vietnamese students had a (mostly) friendly snowball fight outside in the snow. Senior Trung Doan even demonstrated the proper form in the art of snow angel making.
“It was really fun to serve other people, especially people I didn't know before,” Doan said. "I really enjoyed the beautiful snow, but the most enjoyable thing that I experienced that day was I had a chance to meet a 87 years old lady. [By the time] I was done talking with her – a stranger for when the day started – I felt like I had talked with her for a while."
Doan continued, “I felt like I talked with my grandmother who I miss a lot. Besides that, had a chance to make a snow angel after serving other was also a fun experience. Even though it was really cold outside, I had fun so much fun, it made me felt warm inside.”
Janelle Nosal, volunteer coordinator at Tabitha commented on how visiting groups help make meaningful connections. “The connections made during these encounters bridge the generational gap and give the pure joy of spending time with one another. Everyone leaves feeling like they have made difference in a person’s life.”
And those differences are a two-way street. Many students found themselves reminded of the value of our elderly to our community. They have been through a lot in life and have important stories to share.
Trung wasn’t the only one who thought of his grandparents. Another student put it this way, “I don’t see my grandpa very often. And today I saw someone else’s grandpa. That’s kinda neat to think about.”
As a result of the November outing at Tabitha, the COT surpassed the 200-hour mark in its first year of organized outings. Over 60 different people in the Lincoln Lutheran community have contributed service: a combination of students, parents and staff. If you would like to be involved in the December partnership, please contact Joel Stoltenow. The COT will partner with Jacob’s Well in the month of December.