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Be Still, God has a Calling for Us

Webster Methodist Good Neighbor Team – Jane and Jay’s Experience

When we ask the Lord for a way to serve, opportunities will come. Jane Hamway, her husband, and their young children were curious about volunteer opportunities they could experience together as a family. During a mission moment at their church, Eric Lintala (Community Engagement Manager) spoke about Good Neighbor Teams (GNT), inspiring the Hamway family to get involved. Eric’s words also touched the hearts of Jay Baker and his wife Kathy, and a Good Neighbor Team formed at Webster Methodist Church. As a small group, they were fortunate that Tracy Nowak, another church member, stepped out in faith to take the lead and get the group going. There were feelings of uncertainty, questions, and insecurities, but God had a plan and purpose in mind for this team. As the team patiently waited for a family to be connected with, they were excited but nervous to see where this journey would take them. In April they were connected with Wilondja’s family.


What guided this experience was the support from everyone on the Good Neighbor Team and the World Relief team — it never felt like they were alone. To prepare to meet the family they began with in person training provided by World Relief as well as online training. The team would meet periodically to share experiences, discuss concerns, and learn more about the family’s culture. The team also downloaded the apps, Tarjimly and Google Translate, to help with translation. Leaning on their faith in God and being obedient to His calling helped them get through the anxiety of whether they were ready for this new experience. Having the rest of the Good Neighbor Team and World Relief behind them made the process easier because the workload was shared.

First meetings

Wilondja’s family arrived at the airport very late at night but the Good Neighbor Team was there to greet them after their long travel day. The Hamway family went shopping and dropped off the groceries to Wilondja’s family as they adapted to their new home in Rochester. Meanwhile, a small group that included Jay and Kathy went over to help measure and hang up curtains. What Jay did not realize was how the Lord would use that day to change his mindset to be all in.

While Wilondja, Maria and the rest of the GNT members went to measure and plan for the needs of the home, I stood near one of the entryways to the house. While I was standing there, I saw Denis dash out of the house! Being that it was only a couple of days after their arrival to Rochester, I was immediately concerned. What went through my head was his safety with traffic, an unfamiliar neighborhood, and not knowing what he knew. So, while everyone else was working on the project I quickly went out to make sure Denis was safe. Little did I realize that Denis had gone outside with his soccer ball.  The soccer ball became my way to communicate and build my relationship with him as we passed it back and forth. A few minutes later, Bayombe came out the house and suddenly we were doing a three-way game of passing the soccer ball back and forth. It was awesome as I was completely unprepared for this transformative moment. I feel to this day that moment built something special with Denis and Bayombe. – Jay Baker

Transformative Relationships

Time spent together and activities shared strengthened the families’ relationship. They would meet for coffee, play outside, and take day trips to Lake Ontario. Jane felt the relationship evolve once they started to celebrate birthdays together.

After a certain amount of time, Wilondja’s family stopped asking for help grocery shopping, they received job opportunities, and bought a car themselves. It truly shows how resilient and adaptable refugee families are.  At first, the Good Neighbor Team was very concerned because Wilondja’s family became self-sufficient so quickly. In their training Eric shared that it would happen in a short-time, but they were so surprised to see it happen that quickly! For Jane, it was nothing but an honor to watch them thrive.

As the holiday season began, they gathered to put up a Christmas tree and share a meal together—a special moment for both families.

Lasting Impact

At the end of their six-month journey together, the Good Neighbor Team was overcome with feelings of gratitude. They couldn’t believe the impact Wilondja’s family had on them. The relationships formed would undoubtedly last far beyond the six-month commitment. The Hamway family and Wilonjda’s family have young children who became friends instantly. Daughters from each family became such good friends, they now have pictures of one another in their rooms. Joining a Good Neighbor Team truly transformed each individual involved and both Jane and Jay couldn’t recommend it enough.

“If people are thinking about joining a GNT, I encourage them to just give it a go. It’s not hard, you share the load with your team, and there is WR behind you too. You won’t be sorry that you did it! I can guarantee that they will change your life.” – Jane Hamway

Written by Marketing & Communications Intern, Alexa Gormican. Alexa is a student at St. John Fisher College studying marketing.

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