A Seemingly Simple Act

Stephanie and child
Stephanie Vizi gives a kiss to one of the orphans at Rachel’s Home, a home for children in Lesotho who have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS

One of the driving forces propelling the Navigators forward is the idea of legacy. Throughout the course of our lives, we are constantly learning and accomplishing new things. But who will carry on the work we’ve started if we have neglected to pour our gained knowledge into the lives of those who will come after us? The Navigators call this generational impact and have made it a critical component of the work we do. This is happening everywhere the Navigators are at work. One example of this is in Ottawa at Carleton University.

Stephanie Vizi has been involved with the Carleton Navigators since her second year, when she helped start and lead a study group for young women who wanted to engage on issues of life and faith. This past year the group read through the book One Thousand Gifts to learn more about living life well. Stephanie says the aim of the group is to be a support network. “We have dessert and read a chapter of the book and then discuss it and pray for each other each Sunday. But then during the week we’d pray for each other and connect with one another and try and be there for the good times and bad times throughout the year.”

This coming winter, Stephanie will be heading off to Lesotho, a small country near the southern tip of Africa where she’ll be doing a year-long internship with a charity called Help Lesotho. In her absence, group members Emily Cook and Anna Holtby have taken on the leadership of the group, beginning this past year when Stephanie felt she should take a backseat role to give them the opportunity to lead.

One thing Anna and Emily introduced was something called ‘life stories,’ where they gave each girl an evening to share anything they wanted from their life. Emily says they did this because “everyone wants to share their story and I think you need to give them the opportunity to do that. I think we wouldn’t have gotten as close to each other if we hadn’t done that. There are things you share in those situations that you wouldn’t in a normal conversation. Give people the opportunity to share what they want to share about their life because there are things they might share in that moment that they never would anywhere else.”

Anna and Emily
Anna Holtby (left) and Emily Cook (right) will be leading the young women’s study at Carleton this coming school year. Photo courtesy of Cassie Hendry

Anna says her experiences interacting with Stephanie played a significant role in preparing her for leadership. One of these was Stephanie’s seemingly simple act of hosting a birthday party for her when she was in first year and still adjusting to university life. “Knowing what she did in my life, I want to do that for someone in a younger year in a different position who needs someone to come alongside them during university. It’s a really, really hard time where you’re away from your family and especially faith-wise it’s really hard to keep that up when you’re in a totally new environment.”

She says the mentorship she received from Stephanie has helped generate a desire in her to invest in someone else. “She did it in such a way that she was a friend and was always there. It makes me more excited to be a mentor because it always felt like Steph was alongside me, which was what I needed. It was really nice to have someone who came alongside me and was a friend and listened, but at the same time was very wise and very godly and able to give me perspective when I was going off-course.”

Emily says being a close-knit community is what she first noticed when she joined the group in first year and is the defining feature she and Anna both want to continue on. “This past year we really wanted to bring in girls from all ages, and even some first years because we really wanted to be the support and encouragement those girls needed in their first year. The whole focus of our study is ‘let’s get deep and let’s get comfortable with each other,’ so that we can be real and actually get to the issues that are bothering us, so we can get closer to each other and to God. That was always the most important thing. It didn’t even really matter what book we were studying. If we were able to build those relationships, that’s what mattered to us, and I think this year we really saw that.”

This passing of leadership and knowledge from one generation to the next is what the Navigators of Canada are all about. We see this happening all across the country and beyond because of the vision Navigators have to invest in others so they may go and do likewise.

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