Meredith Lockhart Story
As I drive through the Vickery Meadow apartments every week, I get to experience the most delightful feast of the senses. I see men and women passing by in their traditional garbs of colors and patterns. I smell mouth-watering spices and flavors as mothers and daughters prepare dinner for their families. I hear a constant chatter of men, women, and children speaking languages completely foreign to me. I am greeted with the sweetest hugs of exuberant children ready for a night of learning. It is then that I think how fortunate I am to get to experience this beautiful and dynamic community every Wednesday evening.
I have always been interested in traveling and learning about different cultures. One of the best aspects of traveling is the opportunity to converse with people—over breakfast in a hostel, while perusing a local market, or on a touristy excursion—from different countries. So naturally, I quickly fell in love with the refugee community because it is an opportunity to converse and ultimately build relationships with people from all over the world.
I first began volunteering with Reading Circle back in 2015. There was this group of boys who I had the privilege of teaching. Although they were from different parts of the world, they were just like your typical American preteen boys—they wore flip flops and short sleeved t-shirts year-round, their main interest was sports (soccer), they loved telling jokes, and at times, they were even a bit mischievous. I. fortunately, met them right before they began that “too cool to talk” phase that every adolescent goes through. So on Wednesday evenings we would sit at the round table and share prayer requests, swap stories, ask questions, tell jokes, and try our best to focus on reading. It was very typical to hear one of the boys interrupt our reading time with a “miss, what’s your favorite color?” or “miss, what did you eat for dinner?” or “miss, who is your favorite soccer player?” Some of my most favorite memories are the times when we had funny conversations about the most random of topics. I had several sweet years with them before they eventually moved cities or aged out of the program.
Then after taking a year-long break from Reading Circle, I came back to serve and was paired with a beautiful Congolese girl named Alliance. I am completely biased at this point, but I think she has one of the most joyful personalities ever! She has a smile that would make even the darkest of days brighter. She loves to laugh, talk about fluffy animals, and chat with her friends. Besides working on improving her reading skills, one of my greatest accomplishments has been that I have successfully brainwashed her into thinking my cat is the greatest thing on this earth.
I feel incredibly lucky to be a part of an organization that has blessed me in so many ways. It is so easy to see why Jesus had such an affinity for children. I love these children as if they are my own. They are constantly inspiring and challenging me. In addition, I feel as though I am family with some of the other mentors. Some of them have been serving alongside me for the past three to four years!
I consider it a tremendous privilege to mentor, teach, and disciple this precious soul named Alliance. The Lord has perfectly paired us, and it is with much joy that I anticipate many, many Wednesday evenings with this sweet girl!