Telling Our Stories Week 13

September 30, 2013

Larry and Betsy Dolbee, Branches UMC, Florida City
Where do I see God working in my life recently?

Two years ago we began tutoring math and English at Branches. We recently received a phone call from our “surrogate” daughter at school that she had a 3.78 in math going in to the final. She said if it wasn’t for us helping her that she wouldn’t be in college.  When she calls us mom and dad it’s like the wind from an angel wing wafts over us. She often gives us more than we give her. Our relationship refreshes our spirit when she shares dinner with us. She had down days, too, like when she wondered if her birth dad would buy a ticket for her to come home from school. She demonstrated perseverance, sacrifice and confidence to risk her own well-being when she discovered that the meal plan at school didn’t include weekend meals. She went to school and didn’t have enough money to buy weekend meals but said “three days wasn’t so long to go without eating!” She had saved enough money to pay for the meal plan, but at the last minute before going to school, paid her aunt’s water bill to prevent the water from being turned off.

How has His work helped me in my disciple journey?

Jesus walked with people from diverse socio-economic levels. He talked to each individual about different things but gave each of them love, compassionate understanding and mercy.  We are often overwhelmed with a spiritual awareness that a simple touch, a heartfelt praise or just listening can make such a difference in people’s lives. I recall hugging one of the young adult workers when she told me that she had recently broken up with her long-time boyfriend. She told my wife that the hug must be what a father would do for a daughter; she never experienced a father’s hug.

How do you see your disciple journey making a difference?

Our tutoring has made a difference because students have persisted in getting their GED, go to college or even get a second chance at college when the first opportunity didn’t work out. The Branches staff has been instrumental in helping seven students gain college acceptance from this year’s graduating class. Some students have tried to get their GED, but for whatever reason just didn’t stick to working at it. They were so accustomed to failing they thought they couldn’t succeed. One young man I tutored asked me when did I start getting every math question correct; I advised him that I never did! From then on, he began practicing math problems and scoring higher on tests. Jesus, although perfect, walked with those who were not perfect. He chose disciples that were fisherman and even tax collectors, working His strength through their weakness.

What areas of your disciple journey do you continue to struggle with?

Am I good enough to be worthy to help others? Will I have the patience to forgive their failures?  Will all my actions reflect Jesus examples? How can I do more? It is more important that I keep trying or take the safe route and quit? How do I know if what I am doing is what Jesus would have me do?

What are your hopes/dreams/goals for future steps in your disciple journey?

I’d like to work full time as a math tutor in retirement, continuing to invest in young adults who often don’t get a second chance. I’d like to entice others become tutors so that they would understand the joy that is possible in their lives.


Up Next Week…

Rev. Kandace Brooks, Tomoka UMC, Ormond Beach

Rev. Brooks shares her deep thanks for her congregation’s support and compassion for her husband Neil and her family during the last days of his battle with HIV/AIDS.  “I will forever be grateful to God, and to the people of Trinity UMC to be the church that God called them to be.”


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The Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church

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Lakeland, FL 33815

(863) 688-5563 or toll free (800) 282-8011