I sat there in the uncomfortable hospital chairs, waiting. I flipped through the pamphlet the registration people had given me, not registering what I was reading. How soon am I going to be called? Would it hurt when they stuck the needle in?
“Wendy, you can come with me,” a smiling nurse said. I followed her back towards the blue curtains, and she asked me a bunch of questions and took my blood pressure. “Okay, now we’re going to prick your finger.” Oh no, I thought. I’ve heard this is the worst part. The nurse quickly pricked my finger, did the test, and said, “Looks like you’re good to donate!” with a smile. After a few more questions, she told me to wait until someone came and got me.
Again, I sat, waiting nervously in a cold metal folding chair behind a blue curtain. This is going to be unbearable. After a few minutes, the curtain moved to reveal a woman wearing a smile and scrubs. “You can come with me!” I followed her out into the room with all of the foldable cots that were set up for donors. She told me to lay down on one and wait. After she asked me some questions, labeled my bags, and put the blood pressure cuff on my arm, the nurse put iodine all over my arm. This is cold and weird. Why would anyone ever want to donate blood and go through all of these weird, nerve-wracking experiences?
“Alright, Wendy, it’s time to start donating!” I squeezed the red stress ball three times and closed my eyes, bracing for the pain. I waited. And waited. But I felt nothing. I opened my eyes and peeked at my arm--and there was a needle, drawing blood! I hadn’t even felt it. I chatted with the nurse while the donation bag continued to fill. Ten minutes later, I was finished donating and enjoying some fruit snacks and juice at the canteen. I had successfully donated blood, and I didn’t even pass out!
Donating blood is one example of “Living to Serve.” As FFA members, service is at the heart of what we do. As human beings, I believe it’s what we’re called to do. Service can be as simple as holding the door open for the person behind you, or as life-altering as serving in the military. Either way, service should be a part of what we do every day.
A few weeks ago, I attended a church service at Cedar Valley Church in the suburbs of the Twin Cities. The pastor opened by asking who of us enjoyed fireworks. I looked around and saw many hands, including my own, raised. He went on to share a story that went something like this:
“When we think of fireworks, we think of sitting in our lawn chairs on the Fourth of July, watching the fireworks explode over a lake and enjoying it from afar. And that sounds nice, doesn’t it?” Many of us nodded along, imagining this scene in our heads. He continued, “Well, a few years ago, I was in China over the Chinese New Year. My wife and I stayed on the tenth floor of our hotel and got to witness how they celebrate. It was absolutely nothing like how Americans celebrate with fireworks; in China, anybody and everybody that wants to shoot off fireworks can. None of the permit nonsense that we have; everyone can light off their own fireworks. And my wife and I stood there, looking out at the sky, seeing that 360° around us, color and light illuminated the sky.
Service is a lot like fireworks. When someone commits an act of service, it’s an amazing thing and has the ability to light up someone’s day, or in other cases, illuminate their lives. Many times, we sit back and simply enjoy the fireworks that someone else lit off; we say, “Someone else will help that lady with her groceries,” “Someone else will participate in the chapter service project,” or “Someone else will make a difference.”
What if we chose to serve like fireworks during the Chinese New Year? Rather than sitting back and watching someone else light fireworks, what if we lit our own? Instead of saying, “Someone else…”, we’d say, “I am going to help with the groceries,” “I am going to participate in the chapter service project,” and “I am going to make a difference.”
I was terrified and nervous the first time I gave blood. I had thought, “Someone else can donate blood; they don’t need mine.” Now, I am proud to say I have donated 7 units of blood and cannot wait until I can donate again. I have found my fireworks to light off; what fireworks are you going to light? How are you going to make a difference?
Stationed by the ear of corn,