And ACTion: Acts of Service!

Take 3… and ACTion!

For as far back as I can recall, Acts of Service has been my number one love language. Now when I was a little girl, the term love language had not yet been coined BUT in my mind, it was understood.

I grew up in Trinidad, West Indies in a very extended family and Acts of Service was the cultural expression of love in which I was immersed. I was 5 when my mother moved to the states to create a better life for my sister and I… this was her act of service. She placed us in the care of our grandmother who labored in love for us all. So of course, her love language spoke to my heart more than any other.

We called her Granny. In a family of 14+ aunts, uncles, cousins and my younger sister, Granny painted a portrait of love through her service to her family and to others. Every single morning without fail, she would wake about an hour before the sun rose and prayed for everyone she loved calling each of us by name.

On Saturdays, she would take us to “clean church” to prepare for Sunday service the next day. That Saturday morning however, she would have us go outside to pick flowers while she watched us from her bedroom window. From her window she would point and say, as I placed my little hands over the flowers “Move to yuh right (as she guided my hand with her finger)… keep moving, move, move… now move up. Yes dat one!” They had to be the absolute best for God, nothing less would do.

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She would visit the poor house (in the U.S. it would be considered a shelter) to feed the poor or go to the hospital to pray with the sick. I never understood why she did the things she did or what drove her actions. Now that I’m older, I realized that gratitude was the spark that made her burn with compassion. The things she did and the way she loved, came from a place I didn’t yet understand… SHE ALWAYS had a way of just BEING. Everything about her was love through service. When she passed in 2004, those of us who were in the U.S. had flown home. I remember running a few errands for her wake and returning to our village in a taxi. For miles and from the villages over, I saw people walking. I thought… “Where are all these people going?” It wasn’t until I got to the road that lead to our house that I saw a massive crowd of people (young and old) waiting to pay their respects to my grandmother. Her actions echoed love. At his point I was an adult, the mother of a beautiful baby boy and a soldier in the U.S. Army. My grandmother’s example taught us all that when you’re grateful, you say thank you with your actions. Love, was the ACTion word that lead to my military service.

Let’s rewind to me at ten years old.

For the first time ever, Trinidad is on lockdown. A group of men attempted to overthrow our government and seize control of the country. No one could leave the country, no one and nothing could come in, to include food. There was looting and shooting in the capitol and the peace I had always known, was no more. It was my first taste of fear. Like that scene in Apolcalyto where Flint Sky (the father and tribal leader), his son Jaguar Paw and others were hunting and encountered a group of men from another tribe whose lands were ravaged. They were physically battered and broken, bleeding with fear and seeking a new beginning. For us, many Trinidadians died that day. And like the tribe that was ravaged… fear had set in for many.

At a time that was dark for us all, it was also the time that love spoke the loudest through her actions. Outside forces to include the U.S. military stepped in and helped us to regain control of our government and rebuild all that what was lost.

When the curfews lifted and school resumed, I told all my classmates on a regular basis, that one day I would get me one of those uniforms and I was going to help. They laughed BUT… in July 2007, while wearing that uniform with my M16 in tow, I deployed to Iraq to hopefully help a little girl whose peace had been stolen but to also say thank you with my actions for what others had done for me.

14871702099580011Heading home after a serving in Iraq.

Today, I am a graphic designer and I serve women and children of low income families through a non-profit organization called Every Woman Works, Inc. by providing camping opportunities for kids through out the year. This organization located in Atlanta, is a job readiness program that helps women move from dependency to self-sufficiency. I also serve on the board of a nonprofit called Mary Hall Freedom House (also located in Atlanta), which is a safe haven for women and women with children who are fleeing domestic violence, recovering from substance abuse, transitioning from the penal system, homeless female veterans etc. I love what I do!

My son is a teenager and just the sweetest kid ever. He is my greatest joy and by far has given me the best opportunity life could ever give… to pass onto him everything I learned from Granny by saying thank you through service. I think it’ll stick.

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And cut! Oh wait, that’s a wrap!

 

Sonia E.

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