Since I arrived to Grinnell part of my responsibility as the Religious Life Intern is to manage and maintain our Adopt-A-Grandparent Program. We have a total of 18 students participating in one-on-one weekly communications with their adopted grandparents from the local senior homes or who live independently in Grinnell. We also have another group who does monthly group activities at the senior facilities. I think it is a great program, and I have worked this year to find ways to keep the program going and increase our student participation as well as our information gathering about the program.
Well, one of the centers, the one on the lower-income end, had to cut back even more on their programming. So they only have one full time activities coordinator, who is stretched thin. The center used to have someone come in each week to do Sunday School, but that person moved. So I offered to come in once a month to do Sunday school. This past Sunday I went, but let me be honest, I did not want to go! It was along week at work. I just wanted to stay home. Plus, it’s a lot of work. These are seniors who for the most part are in assisted living, thus I am the one singing, praying, speaking, and doing the whole service like a one-man-show. It takes a lot out of you for an half hour, especially if you are extraverted like me and you go full blast by greeting them and making sure they are comfortable and getting the books and even having to decide who will not need the books because of their physical limitations.
It is hard to get up and go, but once I get myself dressed, walk to the car, drive to the center, walk in the front door, and see their smiling faces I know that it is worth it! I know it is worth it because:
At times I hear them singing the songs they recognize from their days in the church. So it is something familiar to them and hopefully brings joy to their hearts. It is a reminder that the church has no walls, and they remain part of the Body of Christ.
I know that many of them can’t get dressed on their own; Are in wheelchairs, so can’t walk nor drive; And for some the pain may even makes it hard to smile often. Yet when I ask them how they are doing, they smile and simply say “I am doing just fine on the Sunday morning!”
This worship service provides an opportunity to share with those who may not have many visitors. Nevertheless, I believe that during our time together, Jesus shows up and reminds each of them that he is indeed a friend. (I often like to sing with them “What a Friend we have in Jesus”)