Nashville, TN - Legacy Mission Village
“Unorthodox First Day”- Outside My Comfort Zone
Marc Fleming, Legacy Mission Village, 2017
I knew I’d made a mistake when I felt the first raindrop. Walking into Legacy Mission Village’s office on my first day, I had little to no expectations about the type of work I would be doing. Tim and Kathy informed me that I would be working to enhance Journey, Legacy’s youth program primarily focused on assisting high-school refugees to adjust to life in the United States. I was expecting office work, meetings, and presentations. Yet there I was, overdressed in a button up and slacks, with nothing but a rain jacket to protect me from the downpour.
We were out canvassing for the Journey summer program. As we approached the first apartment, I couldn’t help but be a little nervous. I wanted to make a decent first impression with the staff at LMV. I had worked with refugee families, but I felt unprepared and ignorant. By the time we reached the door, I was absolutely soaked. A whirl of thoughts filled my head as Tim knocked on the door:
“This is invasive”
“You’re an outsider”
“You look like a fool walking in someone’s home drenched like this”
“No one’s really asking for your help”
Tim knocked before I was ready. That’s where I met Danny. His charisma and friendliness caught me off guard. Danny came to the United States from South Africa less than two years ago, but his perfect English had me thinking he had lived here his entire life. I tried to give him a fist bump; I got a hug instead. Our three-man team had to make home visits to all the kids that participated in Journey afterschool program to gauge summer program attendance. The list had over eighty names. The rain surged, and we all groaned.
For the most part, I let Danny do the talking to the kids. I handled the parents. We’d been running up and down apartment complexes, and I’d picked up a little more confidence barging into homes along the way. An elderly couple answered the next door. Danny and I asked if their granddaughter will be attending the program, and neither seemed to understand us. Feeling awkward, I started over.
“My name is Marc. I’m with Legacy Mission Village.”
The elderly man raised his hand and stopped me. He was laughing.
“Oh! I know Legacy. Yes I know. William is a great friend”
We had a few more visits like this one. Each time we could not communicate with parents, I would mention William, Legacy’s director. Eyes lit up when I mentioned William’s name. That’s when I really took notice of the connections between Legacy and the families it seeks to assist. The positive relationship between Legacy and refugee families in area was strong to the point that they trust a stranger because he represented the organization. When I told Tim and Kathy about my interesting experiences, they both laughed. Apparently, between the three of us, I had had the most normal first day.