Tuesday, April 3, 2007

On the Receiving End of "Mail Call"

Yes, I actually put a picture of my mailbox,LOL.

Because today, I wanted to talk about letters I've Received lately.

When you write letters ( Letter Writing Team ), or send cards ( Cards Plus Team ), or send cards to wounded soldiers ( Wounded TLC Team ), or send condolence cards to the families of the fallen ( Living Legends Team ) as a member of  Soldiers Angels  ?

The one thing stressed OVER and OVER is......DO NOT EXPECT TO HEAR BACK FROM ANYONE!!!

If you become a member of any of those teams with the EXPECTATION that you will be RECEIVING letters? (or if you Adopt a Soldier with the same expectation ?) then you are bound to be disappointed.

You're writing to people who are in the middle of a war zone, after all....or you are sending birthday cards and encouragement cards to the same.

In the case of the wounded soldiers, you are writing to men and women who are recovering from sometimes dramatically life-altering wounds and putting their lives back together...they really don't have time, or perhaps even the energy, or ability, to write back to total strangers.

And in the case of the families of the fallen? you are sending sympathy notes to people who are going through devastating grief,pain, and loss. Certainly, it was never even a thought in my head when I joined that team, that anyone would ever respond.

Soldiers Angels New York has a quote on her blog by the founder of  Soldiers Angels , Patti Bader.

"These little ripples of kindness add up to oceans of greatness."-Patti Bader,Founder

And that is how I've always viewed the letters and cards and postcards that I send out...as a "little ripple of kindness." I send them out without any expectation that I'll ever receive anything in return. I'm just "adding to the ocean", I suppose you'd say:)

Sometimes, however....those 'ripples' DO come back to you....often in the most unexpected,  most humbling,yet uplifting and heartwarming, ways.

Not too long ago, I received a 'thank you' letter from a soldier I had sent a note to Months ago. (and please don't think I'm passing all this on to boast. I just want to share some of the unexpected rewards of being an 'Angel'.)

Months after he had gotten home, this soldier took the time to say..."you sent me a very thoughtful letter that encouraged me a great deal." While that is my Hope, when I send out my 'ripple letters':)  it was wonderful to receive feedback that I Did make a difference in someone's day while they were deployed. And to know that months afterward, he still appreciated it enough to take the time to tell me that.

Other notes that have taken me totally by surprise are notes I've received in reply to sympathy cards to the families of fallen soldiers. They are only a handful, when you consider that in the month of January alone, I think the Living Legends Team sent out over 70 cards? (That was a brutally difficult month, and only prayer, and much encouragement from Team leaders, helped me get through that month.)

But they are highly treasured by me, for someone in the midst of their loss has taken a moment to say "your card was appreciated." Could I do the same in their shoes? Take the time to thank a stranger? I pray I never have to find out, but I honestly don't know if I could.

The main reason I decided to write this post, though, is because of a letter that I received yesterday.

As I said above, the cards and letters that you send to wounded soldiers are the ones that you most certainly send out WITHOUT the expectation of a reply.

So, the letter I received yesterday caught me TOTALLY off-guard.....and reduced me to tears of awe mixed with joy.

Because yesterday, I received a HAND-PRINTED note from a soldier who had suffered a head wound, and had originally not been expected to live.

It was only four sentences long, and the printing on the note reflected the struggle it must have been to write those lines....but the fact that this soldier was even ABLE to write those lines at all gave me cold chills of joy, humbleness, thanksgiving and awe.....joy that he WAS able to print those few lines, humbleness that he and his family felt that my few cards of support deserved this 'thank you', Thanksgiving to God that he had come so far in his recovery.....and most of all, Awe at the power of prayer, and the power and perseverance of Heroes like this young man.

To me, this was so much more than "just a letter". This is a PRICELESS TREASURE, totally UNDESERVED in proportion to the time it took for me to send this soldier a few cards, and remember him in my prayers.

I am, and will remain, humbly grateful to have received this.

And we are going to frame it, and hang it in a place of honor in our home......as a reminder to continue to keep sending out those "ripples of kindness".






lsk49rs said...

ok - I won't expect a letter back from my soldier....but I have to tell you that I do expect a loving God to continue to help that young man heal from his head wound....what an incredible story, Kath...thank you......

tschuckman said...

Hi Kathi,   very nice post.  I remember well shen one of my many German-American uncles from Hays, Kansas wrote me a letter while I was in Vietnam: 68-70, anda few yars latter his son whowas over in Nam, told me that he never gota letter from his own dad (my uncle, Victor Schuckman, who is the man I am referring to..).  Well, as you can guess that the letter formed a great bond between us and he was very special ever since.   Times have changed (for reasons I will not go into right now) and snailmail letters are not in vogue now days and aer rare even in peace time...
Keep up the good work!

Tom Schuckman                    
Disabled Vietnam Veteran: 1968-70                    
Please click on the HyperLink below to access my AOL Journal / Blog !

Hell is NOT an option !

"Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?" ~ Galatians 4:16

flaggazer said...

Those moments when that letter shows up is such an amazing one!
I cherish each one!

This is an especially touching story - God Bless him in his continued recovery.

cmuirw1 said...

What a beautiful, moving story! Humbles me, inspires me, reinforces my belief in all the Good in the world. Thanks!

princesssaurora said...

Wow... thank you for sharing it... I can see that the treasures, blessings and gifts truly go both ways... and that is just magical!

be well,