If someone ever gifts you a goat and a few chickens, and you’re not sure what to do, just ask Virgil and Shirley.
On a Chalice medical mission trip to Tanzania circa 2013, they found themselves in this exact scenario.
They graciously accepted the gifts, before donating them back to Chalice’s partners, the Vincentian Fathers and the Sisters of the Visitation.
Of course, they still tried what the chickens left behind.
“But the eggs were good,” Virgil remembered with a laugh.
Virgil and Shirley, who are married, have been Chalice sponsors since 1999, when a deacon first appealed for new sponsors at their parish in Calgary, Alberta. But they didn’t become Chalice Champions for many years, until another volunteer fell ill and they stepped up to speak on Chalice’s behalf.
Since then, they’ve sponsored more than 10 children, been on numerous mission trips, and even conducted a very special mission of their own in 2013.
You see, people in Tanzania weren’t just lining up to give Virgil and Shirley goats and chickens. They’d been assigned a unique task: delivering gifts and letters from sponsors in Canada to sponsored children and their families.
22 people responded, and they ended up with enough packages to fill an entire suitcase.
Why did they take on the task? For Virgil and Shirley, giving to your sponsored child in this way strengthens the relationship.
“It’s just reinforcing the fact that you do have a sponsored child, and they do receive your letters,” Shirley said.
The sponsored children and their family were thrilled to receive the gifts and letters, with Shirley saying, “Some families were overwhelmed by the quantity and quality of gifts.”
But what happened when they returned home was equally life changing.
Shirley and Virgil committed to meeting with the sponsors whose gifts and letters they’d brought over, so they could share the plethora of thank-yous.
Many people cried, and Shirley called it a “lovely” experience.
Ultimately, the experience struck such a chord with the people they visited that they wanted to do what Virgil and Shirley were doing.
“We ended up recruiting a lot of people to help us with our sponsorship appeals,” Shirley said.
Now that’s love in action!