Sai Baba, who is regarded by many Indian hindi’s and muslim devotees as a saint, once said, “No joy can equal the joy of serving others.” And this weekend I was lucky enough to have put this to the test. Sometimes we feel that serving others is an obligation, and we go out and do this with a heart half in it. Yet when you see the smiles lighting up the faces of those being served, when you experience their gratitude, and become completely embraced by all the gladness they offer, you will truly find no greater joy then this on earth.
In New Jersey in the town of Zarapheth is a church. This church strives to serve each member in their community in a way that becomes so personal that you find that each person you meet there is a friend regardless if you’ve known them for five minutes or five years. I came to know them because of the great friends I made in the USA. These friends attend school at Raritan Valley and because of their enthusiastic interaction on campus, are now both president and vice president of the business club, Enactus. Over the months both Kevin and Kate have been involved in a number of projects and I have been fortunate enough to be involved in some small way with some of these as well. This past weekend, was an experience like no other. Being able to get a hands on experience about a cause and club that has intrigued me so much these past months.
The day started off relatively warm, considering we had just come out of a hurricane that was hurriedly followed by a freezing snow storm. With preparations under way by members and volunteers of the church, when we had arrived there bright and early on Saturday morning, we lent out a hand here and there wherever we were needed, and got all our eggs in a row for the event that was to start. Before the start we were all called into a simple conference room packed full with the most loving and intriguing people around. They quickly discussed the order of events for the day, bowed heads for a moment of prayer and then lunch was served for those of us who were starving from the very long two hours between breakfast and lunch. With the lunch and friendly banter all done with, it was time for real work.
The event was a turkey drive for the upcoming holiday of thanksgiving, especially for families who could not afford to celebrate this very traditional American past time with families and friends in the way expected. With a juicy turkey, mouthwatering stuffing and all the other trimmings that go along with it. The stations where all up and running, volunteers were in place and we were ready to roll.
The Enactus-RVCC station was an inquiring survey that members of the college were handing out. One of the projects being undertaken by this club is a sustainable community garden which they are working closely with My Neighbors Ministries to get underway. A community garden is a wonderful concept, where the saying, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime,” fully explains this endeavor. Plots of land are divided up and willing members of the community are able to come in to plant and harvest their own crops. With the garden just getting started, input from the community was a vital part at this stage. Getting the scope of what was required and what was needed from each person, learning about their very basic essentials, and meeting the people we would become closely involved with in the next few months, was what our day encompassed.
Despite the hours of handing out surveys and speaking to people about the project and founding out how they had faired after two very grueling storms, I grew to be motivated and inspired by many things that day. The simple way people looked forward to rebuild their lives regardless of the tragedies that have struck so many of them. The care and community service so many willing people offer not because it is required or needed of them, but because they truly have a burning passion to do so. And that despite the bad things that happen all around us each day, we can still count on the faith of mankind. This event was an amazing way to learn so much about an area of American that has been my home for over a year, and to give back to a place that has already given me so much.