This was a super busy couple of days! Thursday we picked up office furniture for Swaziland. Friday I met with a friend for breakfast and then went to the warehouse to move furniture around. We had our first committee meeting to plan out this year's approach for the Library. Saturday I went to a training session for our church to discover our strengths and how we can use them.
Today, the I.Can Foundation held a Fashion Show and I was invited to be the guest speaker and then I had been asked to go to the Life Church in Stratford to share how they helped us with building libraries in Swaziland. Now you might think this blog is about Swaziland, but it's not really.
I woke up on Saturday morning with laryngitis! Do you know how hard it is to be a guest speaker and not be able to speak? I was supposed to give an announcement about our commitment to Swaziland for this year, and I squeaked it out. I went to the Fashion Show today and shared how the whole Library Project got started and squeaked that out too. Several ladies came up to me throughout the rest of the day and asked many questions and indicated that they wanted to support in different ways. But, as I was walking out of the building with Stacey, a young lady said, "Thanks for telling us that story. It was really well done." I smiled that smile that I give when I really want to say something, and then said, "Thank you." I turned to Stacey and said, "It wasn't a story. It was a reality." I was incensed. In fact, I think I was insulted a little bit. I'm sure she didn't mean it that way, but that's how I felt when she said that.
A story is fake. Stories are what I read every day to our primary students at school when they come into the Library at school. I didn't tell a story today, I told an event that took place between October, 2009 to today. Anyway, I stewed over that for a little bit and then decided that it wasn't worth getting my knickers in a twist about. I just wanted to be make sure she knew that what I said was real. What I said really happened. What I said was true. Then I thought back to the training session on personal strengths. I should have known why I took that so personally, but in reflection now, that's my personality. My first dominant strength is "Responsibility". So, what's that? The definition given in the StrengthFinders assessment is this psychological ownership for things I commit to; we feel emotionally bound to follow our commitment through to completion. Our reputation is important. People with this strength feel that honesty and truth are very important characteristics that they measure things by. So that made sense then why I felt so insulted. She probably didn't mean "story" the way that I took the definition and it's probably why I really wanted her to know that I was telling the truth.
At Stratford's Life Church, guess what... same sort of thing. After I shared, a member from their church prayed for me but before she did she said something that made me cry. I'm glad that people get why I do what I do. She said, "Thank you for bringing those books. Your family sent so many books, and you sent the one most important book. The book that gives life to each one that reads it." I sat and wept as she prayed over this next phase of the Library Project. A man came up to me and asked me how did we ever co-ordinate so many things at one time in such a short period of time with no experience. Ya... I know... I wonder that all the time. My only answer was "God asked us to do it and He had to provide the way." He said, "You must have had to make changes as you go and you said you worked with a bunch of people. You must have had to be flexible. All I could do was say, I didn't have answers to most questions we had at the time, so we had to try different things. He then expressed that he'd have given up.
On my drive home I reflected on the night. What that man said to me was my second strength - "Arranger". These people enjoy managing all of the variables, aligning and realigning them until we are sure we have arranged them in the most productive configuration possible. Ok, honestly? enjoy manging all of the variables? Well, I do get a little satisfaction in finding solutions. And then it happened - my third strength - Communication. I really don't like talking in front of anyone. Especially when I squeak like a mouse because of laryngitis! I love talking to people I know, but not to groups of people that I don't know. And I don't really understand why I have to do it. Doesn't God know how hard that is for me? Doesn't He know that I like to do things, but in the background, not out in front. As I was packing up the display, another lady came over to me and said that I shared our story really well. She said that I was a gifted storyteller. She said she could have listened for hours. The definition of "Communication" as a strength is an ability to make an event come to life to a listener. We can take a dry idea and enliven it with images and examples and metaphors. We use dramatic words and powerful word combinations. Our words pique their interest, sharpen their world and inspire them to act.