My grandmother suffered from dementia in her final years. At the time, the best place for her was the memory care wing of an assisted living center. She was a strong willed woman with a deeply rooted faith. I remember, despite her failing memory, my grandmother would hear a church hymn and would hum along almost instantaneously. She could also mouth the words to the Lord’s Prayer up until the very end. While my grandmother’s mind was clouded with so many uncertainties, Jesus’ grace and love was something she held on to tightly, with the help of loved ones and the wonderful memory care staff.
Part of Living Water Ministries’ mission is to serve others and grow in faith, and one of the ways we fulfill that is through our service projects. Each week we send campers to a food pantry, a community center, and two senior living centers. Campers are able to help in many different ways, from organizing non-perishable foods to keeping senior residents company. The impact of these service projects is three-fold. Not only are we changing the lives of the people we interact with and slowly transforming their communities, but we are also helping our campers to leave each week with the contagious joy of serving others on their hearts and minds.
Just after returning from SHAWL Senior Home (Whitehall, MI) where she washed residents’ cars, elementary camper Gracie told me about her experience. She said, “[Service projects] are a lot of fun because you get to do stuff for people. It’s important to go on service projects because we’re a Lutheran camp and our goal is to help people. God sent us to help people.” Gracie is wise beyond her years– in just three sentences she explained how service and faith are innately connected.
As we return from our service projects each week, it is important to remember that Jesus did very similar work. In Matthew 15:32, He said, “I have compassion on the multitude”. We must reflect on the fact that Jesus didn’t hang with the prophets or the most popular people in society; He sat with the hungry, the sick, and the poor. That is why the Gospel calls us to go out into the world and serve others! Knowing this and the fact that my grandmother got to experience companionship similar to what our campers provide at senior living homes comforts me greatly.
Of course the service experiences we provide positively impact the communities we serve. However it is just as important to know that serving others also impacts our campers greatly. The opportunity to serve humbles us immensely and teaches us that each of us are not made whole until we are all made whole. If you would like to support the organizations where Living Water Ministries campers serve, please visit these websites for more information.