In Serving, I Shine
Sometimes life puts things in our paths to test who we are, and forces us to put faith in ourselves, destiny, religion...or whatever keeps us going. For Rochelle Jones, God keeps her going, through everything, no matter how small or big. As I drove to her home and walked up to her door, a large, dark, ominous cloud followed. It was a gloomy day and I wasn't particularly in a social mood. Little did I know how much I needed to connect with
Rochelle. God works in funny ways....
"I remember thinking when I was a little girl, walking to school ten blocks away through the snow. 'when I grow up, I'm moving to the South'!" Rochelle stated. So, in 2005, she retired and moved to Sun City in 2009. She had worked for 30 years in a Ford Motor Company factory, working many positions, from the assembly line to becoming an inspector towards the end. "I love retired life. I just wanted to do nothing," Rochelle smiled her big, bright smile (that matches her big heart). But she didn't do nothing...and to the people she has helped, it meant everything.
Rochelle spends her time working with the youth group from Providence Presbyterian Church, volunteering for Hero's on Horseback, Heart to Home, mentoring kids and going on mission trips. Rochelle devotes her time to helping people that need the most help. While her church helped a lot in terms of sponsorship the first year, she normally raises her own money and writes people for donations. In fact, this year she will have gone on two missions trips. In June she went to Nicaragua, and in July she went to Lake Shore, Mississippi, an area that was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, to help rebuild a church. The pastor of the local Baptist church, rebuilt 200 homes before beginning on the church.
Rochelle has dreams of changing the world by helping change at least one person's world at a time. "I've always wanted to be like Angelina Jolie and adopt ten children from all different countries," she laughed. Getting serious she continued, "I love doing things for other people. I have a lot of empathy for people in need. It feels good to help them." Her biggest dream? "I want to own a mobile cooking unit (like a food truck) that I'd call the Chuck Wagon. I'd drive to natural disasters across the country and cook for first responders-God will make it happen."
Throughout her life, God has placed speed bumps in her way, but Rochelle subscribes to the belief that they are put there for a reason and that God will never let her down. Laughing her infectious and comforting laugh, Rochelle exclaimed, "Don't mess with me! I have God on my side. When life hits me, I turn to God, no matter what the issue. He works everything out for me. If you put your trust in God when people fail you, YOU won't fail or falter, because your trust will be in Him." Her passion is contagious and uplifting.
I asked Rochelle which of her many mission trips was the most memorable. She smiled a knowing smile, "Each one is different and memorable in their own ways." The story that touched me the most was when she and her youth group were coming back from a mission trip to Puerto Rico. They were going to go to Disney World and Universal to have a little fun after the trip. "All the kids were bummed out because in Puerto Rico, a nursing home that we had visited had no A/C, rocking chairs with no bottoms and their septic system was out. They were upset because of the living conditions of those elderly people. So, the kids opted to donate the money they intended to use for Universal," Rochelle beamed proudly.
Rochelle should be proud for all the good she is doing, but in all actuality, she is very humble. "I don't live my life trying to be what people want me to be. God put me here to serve, and in serving, I shine." And boy does she shine! As I left Rochelle Jones' house and walked to my car, the gray skies had given way to beams of sunlight. The day felt new-and so did I.
Up Close and Personal:
Family: Daughter, Ebony, 35; Son, Brandon, 37; Grandson, Brandon Jr. 9.
What are you reading these days? "I read devotional books mostly. If I'm not learning from it, I don't want to read it. I just finished reading I Declare by Joel Osteen. My grandson is reading it now."
What would people be surprised to learn about you? "When I was in Nicaragua, I went zip-lining and parasailing. I'd love to skydive or hang glide. I guess I've just always wanted to fly."
Pink Power: "I make blankets, pillow and scarfs to help support those hurting from breast cancer. I make most of them pink and white, but I have started making brown and pink ones.the 'fight like a girl' t-shirts. I have given 15 of them away so far. If I meet someone who is battling breast cancer...I just give them a blanket so they can take it with them to chemo treatments."
Message from Rochelle:
This nation has turned it's back on God. Everyone has their own agenda. That's why Rochelle and others have created a Praise and Prayer March, only to give thanks. Everyone is invited to attend this service at noon, the Sunday after Thanksgiving, at Coligny Beach, to give thanks to God, for all He has done...and not to ask him for a thing. "If we come together and do this, I know that we can turn this country around." Rochelle stated. For more information on this event call (843) 842-5673.