Volunteering with Sowing Seeds of Joy, Inc. has truly been a blessing for me, my husband, and my unborn son. The experience started out as an assignment for my graduate degree program, in which I am required to obtain twenty hours of volunteer or “service learning” experience in working with a Non-profit organization that focuses on serving the community and helping people. My mother, Annette Evans Smith recommended the organization to me as she and my father, Edward Smith own and operate a Non-profit organization in which they minister to others through educating and training them on grant writing and obtaining funding for their non-profit organizations.
My mother had shared with me some of the work that they had done in partnering with SSOJ in the past and spoke highly of the organization and the founders, Mr. Ron and Mrs. Star. Inspire volunteers I will admit that I was hesitant to reach out to them in that I did not know if they would be willing to help me or how I would be received by them, as I had not ever met them personally. However, I can say that my experience has been more than pleasant; the best way that I can describe it is by saying that it has truly been a blessing to again, me and my family.
Another reservation I had was with me being out of state, that they possibly may have reservations about allowing me to volunteer, in addition to me being an expectant first-time mother. I was pleasantly surprised at how receptive Ms. Star was to me from the beginning and her assurance that they were delighted and more than willing to help me. In the first conversation I had with her, she asked me about my plans, my relationship with God, my family, and she prayed over me, which assured me that she genuinely wanted to help me and truly has a heart for what she does. She assured me that she would have her volunteer coordinator, Ms. Fay Adams reach out to me soon to get me started with my volunteer work, and within a couple days, she did.
Again, I was still a little hesitant as I was unsure of what I would be doing or how I could possibly add to the organization. After speaking to Ms. Fay, she informed me that I would be doing Mission’s care work, which would include assisting with a project that included interviewing other missionaries to obtain feedback for the organization in how they could continue in supporting them in their work. I took an initial evangelism course, which I did not expect to be more than an orientation course over the organization, though within minutes of starting the training, I found myself stopping and praying, asking God to focus and prepare my heart for the training as this was about Him and doing His work. After viewing my responsibilities, I was still a bit nervous (being a shy person) about conducting these interviews with people whom I didn’t know, though I can truly say that after having spoken to nine different women and hearing of their testimonies, I feel confident and empowered by the work that SSOJ has allowed me to do within their organization.
The experience allowed me to learn not only about mission’s work, but to learn about the unlimited possibilities of mission’s work and how the Lord can use you even from your own home. I have been truly humbled and able to learn about myself and about the things that I hope to do in the future after speaking with and being supported by such loving and gracious women. As a registered nurse finishing up my master’s degree and having a passion for people and healing, I am now even more inspired to help in healing others, but for Christ instead of my own desires. From the women’s conferences to the love and support of the missionaries I spoke with, I truly see the heart of God in SSOJ and that they are not just another organization, but a body of believers who want to help, inspire, and empower people through Christ and that they are truly genuine in what they do and what they believe.
I plan to continue working with SSOJ in the future, in continuing to maintain contact with Ms. Star and some of the missionaries who openly accepted me, and by continuing to attend women’s conferences and looking for ways that I can support them going forward. After starting my Holistic Nursing organization, I would like to connect with SSOJ in possibly doing some collaborative missions work, as they are about healing and supporting God’s people. My prayer is that my family and I would also be able to go on a mission’s trip with them in the future, to truly share the Love of God and the blessings He has bestowed upon us. Thank you again to SSOJ for all that you have done for me and in your continual support, may God continue to bless you.
Ariana Smith Pedraza and Baby Ezekiel Pedraza