|Judy (right) with friends Vicki Depew, Jeri Colton, and Kerri Wall|
Judy Brock calls Atlanta GA home, along with her husband Jeff. She has four daughters and two sons along with their amazing spouses who they love and adore. Not to mention their four grandson’s that rule their world. They all live in the Provo, Utah area so she travels west as often as possible to be with them. She is currently the Stake YW President in the Cartersville Ga Stake (of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) and loves to hang out with the youth. She loves cardigan sweaters and warm slippers. Anything by the water is a vacation to her and dark chocolate isn’t too bad either. For the last 25 years she has volunteered with her local Family Violence Center and more recently with Shiloh United Methodist Church’s Daily Bread Food Pantry. She is looking forward to more opportunities to work with Rising Star Outreach and the wonderful people associated with it.
|Judy and her family|
It’s Valentine’s Day, and my first full day home from India and Rising Star Outreach. The roses and card from my sweetheart were waiting for me on the kitchen table as I walked in the door from a long day at church. I hugged my husband, and felt the love that he has for me; but this year, a new chamber in my heart was opened. A chamber filled with love for the children and families affected by Leprosy, for the volunteers and interns, for the founders and dedicated board members and employees that have devoted years of service to our brothers and sisters in India. I wanted them all to know how much I have grown to love them, how grateful I am for the opportunity to rub elbows with each and every one of them. I wanted to give them all a paper heart with expressions of love and gratitude for opening this chamber that always existed but was not yet revealed.
|with our students|
It all started several months ago, when I met Jeri Colton at the Salt Lake City airport. We were both flying back to Atlanta and recognized each other as fellow volunteers that worked at the Atlanta Temple for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I explained that I was in Utah to visit grandbabies and she said she was there to attend a board meeting for a charitable organization. I asked which one and she began to describe the work of Rising Star Outreach. I was immediately interested. Just as our conversation was starting, we were asked to board the plane. We said good-bye and promised to finish the conversation “one day soon”. I boarded the plane and took my seat by the window. Moments later, Jeri boarded and low and behold she was on my same row, aisle seat. I quickly took the middle seat. “One day soon”, had arrived and for the next four hours we scoured through pictures and details of Jeri’s recent experience in India and Rising Star Outreach. By the time we landed, I was all in. It was one of those moments of pure clarity that Rising Star Outreach was for me.
I returned home and told my family and friends all about it. I got crazy confused looks and comments like, “Leprosy? There’s still Leprosy in the world?” and “Leprosy? Are you crazy? It’s contagious you know”. I fought the doubts and fears that others had planted. I tried to clear up the myths as I moved forward to join Jeri and the other volunteers for the Women to Women session in January 2016. My excitement grew even more when my dear friend, Vicki Depew committed to join me. “There is safety in numbers”, I remember thinking. My resolve was secured.
Vicki and I met Jeri and her friend Kerri at the airport. Three of us “new and naïve”. Jeri was our faithful leader and mentor. We were filled with excitement and hope for what this adventure might entail. My focus was on what I could give. I had no idea that what loomed ahead was what I would receive.
|Judy and Divia|
Upon our arrival, we were greeted by the most beautiful children. We quickly unpacked and toured the campus on our way to recess. It was on that first day, that I met Divia, sitting alone with a two inch plastic baby doll that she was rocking in a handful of leaves. I knew immediately that I wanted to be her sponsor and her friend. Later that evening, Jeri and I attended a prayer meeting with the children. The young women called to us, “Auntie, auntie, sit here”. We sat. The service was in Tamil but the spirit was sweet and inviting. One young women asked Jeri if she had the bible on her cell phone. Jeri said yes. She asked Jeri if she could open to Joshua chapter 1 and pointed to the verse. Jeri looked at me, and showed me the verse. It was Joshua 1:9. “Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” Not just any old scripture, but my favorite scripture. The very scripture that rescued me from a tragic car accident years prior that took the life of a young 9 year old boy named Joshua. My eyes filled with tears. My doubts were extinguished and my original clarity confirmed. I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be and that God was there too.
Our first morning at Rising Star, Curtis, one of our faithful volunteer coordinators encouraged us to move out of our comfort zone and to spend some time in the Growth zone. He did caution us to beware of the panic zone and not to push too hard. Leaving the comfort zone was easy. I left it in Atlanta. Everything going forward was about managing my growth zone. A talk I love by one of my religious mentors is titled, “What lack I yet?” I found myself asking that question repeatedly and every day new opportunities for growth were provided.
|The Artist that pained Judy’s “Tree of Life” picture with her|
I’m back home now. My heart is full as I jump back into my comfort zone. The question I hear most often is: “Was it life changing?”…. I look in awe and reply honestly without hyperbole; “yes, it was… but the jury’s still out…” I received so much more than I gave. I pray that I can fully assimilate all that I learned towards a better me. And on this Valentine’s Day, reflect not just on the love I feel from others but the love that comes from truly loving another.