A great place to serve through the Office of Ministry and Service is with our Retirement Center Ministries! Our Student Ministry Coordinator, Tiffany Lemke shares her story with RCM and how it’s changed her life.
“One of the people who has had a huge influence in my life is my grandma. Growing up, she would care for my younger sister and I when my parents were working. She was not only ‘grandma’ but teacher, comforter, playmate, baker, and an example of a faith-filled lifestyle as well. Now that I am a sophmore in college, the roles are more reversed and I am able to provide for and help her. She has become my friend, and the impact of talking with her, hearing stories about her life, and simply being with her is the second reason that led me to seek out APU’s Retirement Center Ministry. God was the first reason.
I started volunteering during the first semester of my freshman year, and I can honestly say that it was one of the best decisions I ever made. I fell in love with the residents and was able to make friends of the Ministry Coordinator and other volunteers as we were all united in our passion for the elderly. Being a first generation college student and as this was my first time away from home, that first semester was also filled with challenges. I had a lot to figure out about college life, fitting in, and adapting to the academically rigorous courses and anxiety of being a pre-nursing major in a very competitive field. This ministry was my constant, a place of respite from everything where I could be myself, let go of my personal issues, and fully invest in the lives of the residents. When second semester rolled around, I decided to apply for a Lead Volunteer Position. I know this desire was from God because I did not feel ready or qualified to take on the responsibilities of this position, yet by stepping out in faith God used me to assist the coordinator, help plan out the weekly activities, and get to know the residents and volunteers on a different level. The Student Ministry Coordinator at the time was preparing to graduate, and after talking with her and praying a lot I felt God really puitting it on my heart to apply for the Coordinator position. Despite my own reservations, here I am today coordinating the ministry and preparing for a new year with the residents and volunteers. Although I am nervous about some things, God has used this entire experience to draw me into deeper relationship with Him. When I first came to APU, my heart was farther from God than it had ever been before. Yet through His love, patience, and grace, God used this service opportunity and the people in the ministry to soften my heart and bring me back to Him.
I am so grateful for the investment made in my life and how God used the residents, who I intended to bless, to bless me even more. At the end of each semester we put on a dance to celebrate our time together. Normally a wallflower in public, I was hesitant to participate until a resident named Kay, who happens to have the same name as my grandma, invited me to dance with her. She was so graceful and passionate, and I was honored at the opportunity. To quote Barbara de Angelis, ’the journey between who you once were and who you are now becoming is where the dance of life really takes place’. For me, this transformational process occurred through my time volunteering, leading, and when I again stepped out of my comfort zone by dancing with Kay. I am so excited for the opportunity I have as Coordinator of this ministry to see what God has planned for the residents and volunteers. Our theme verse is Leviticus 19:32 which says ‘Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly’ which is something I believe, desire to live out daily, and try to encourage others to do.”
We hope Tiffany’s story touched you as much as it did us in the MAS office! If you want to help out with Retirement Center Ministries – come into our office and we’ll get you connected with Tiffany and the other volunteers! Be blessed!