Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Gloria Merrick: A Story Worth Telling

Name: Gloria Merrick
Homestate: California
Gloria Merrick came on an outreach with her church last March and spent a week with Miriam and I at the Microfinance Site.  I was continually amazed at her attitude and vulnerability as she connected with and loved the people around her.  While some people may write her off because she is young, God has already given her a story worth telling!

I am not a fan of soda, but denying a drink in a Dominican ladies home is about as disrespectful as you can be as a guest. I drank the Coca-Cola with a grin of gratitude. I was sitting on a lawn chair on a painted, cement floor. The walls were covered in many colors of decoration. In fact, the whole room shouted with bright, vibrant, exciting pictures and figurines. Surrounded by a group of local Dominican ladies I expected to be glanced at with awkward, uninviting eyes; the way a lot of Americans are guilty of doing with foreigners. The looks I got were none of the sort. Not even one. I was met with looks of acceptance and genuine interest. Little did I know this meeting was about to change the way I would deal with relationships from then on.

Before driving into the village to meet with a group of devoted ladies, Eric asked if I would want to share my testimony at the “bank meeting”. Not really knowing what to expect out of a “bank meeting” or in a woman’s home, I decided to do it. We walked down the unpaved, rocky road towards the home we agreed to meet at. Suddenly, I realized that it was almost time for me to follow through on my commitment. I had taken three years of Spanish in high-school, but being fully submerged in culture tends to change the classroom experience. Unsure of how translating a testimony would work, I trusted Eric to share God’s work in my life with a circle of attentive women.

With papers of praise we began the meeting worshiping with only our voices. In a language not native to me, I could still worship God with a body of believers. After spending some time sharing struggles and praises, Eric then transferred the script over to me. In a span of ten minutes, I stepped into vulnerability and openness telling the story of my life. When I spoke, I was encouraged with rounds of head nods. The atmosphere was thick with sympathy and love - love with the motivation of acceptance. These women really cared about what I had to say. They praised God through my story with edifying, uplifting words that gave my spirit more confidence. After a wonderful bonding time we got to business paying off loans and calculating simple math. (The kind you need, but don’t ever use in school) I realized how terrible my simple addition and subtraction skills were. Throughout the entire time I was visiting in their home, there was a recurring trait in each woman that boiled down to one word: grace.

 I stepped into this woman’s home not knowing what God was going to do with and in me. Reflecting back on this experience I understand more fully how big and all encompassing our God is. He is not confined to our nation, our city, or our church. He is the bigger picture that connects us all together. He is universal. 

God used this experience to teach me a very important business skill. He taught me that business is about the relationships. Before we started talking about money or anything business related we worshipped God and grew in relationships with one another. In turn, I now take that approach and apply it to many situations. Whether it be in a professional relationship with teachers or businesses, group projects or simple get-togethers, it stays in the front of my mind. It’s a new filter that keeps business talk and motives from getting in the way of relationships.

Each woman I met taught me that life is more than success. They had it down. They knew what it meant to serve others and care for each other selflessly. The only reason they were running a business was for the sole purpose of supporting another person. It makes so much sense why so many people in the States are unhappy and depressed.  It’s because we've lost sight of what business is really about. It’s not about the pursuit of money, title, and happiness. It’s about truly connecting. Connecting from the soul with one another is what God intends for each and every one of us.

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