/ 10. January 2012 12:21
Community. The word initially brought to mind vague images of a town, a church, an organization. It now brings to mind the faces of my five community members, the faces of the greater Augustinian Volunteer network, and the faces of each person we’ve served. I now define community as a support system of love.
Our community of six eats together four to five nights per week. In addition, we formally pray together two nights each week. Meals and prayer provide ample opportunity for each of us to share stories and triumphs. Each gathering also enables us to seek advice on daily challenges.
I work at Hogar Infantil La Gloria—a full-time home for neglected, abused, and orphaned children on the outskirts of Tijuana, Mexico. My job is twofold: 1) Assisting in fundraising, accounting, and administrative efforts & 2) Working directly with the children at Hogar. Working with the children has been a blessing, for I have truly come to love the kids as if they’re part of my own family. I have to admit, though, that I struggled upon arriving at my worksite. It was clear that mornings would be spent in the baby room, while afternoons would be spent aiding the older children with homework. I am a very goal-oriented person, however, and I had trouble grasping the importance of my role and what I’d actually achieve by showing up each day. My community didn’t allow me to fall prey to my frustration.
In fact, each member of my San Diego AV community contributed to the clarity I gained regarding my role this year. A member of my community shared with me the words of Teresa de Avila,
Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours.
It’s difficult for anyone to fully grasp the idea of a children’s home. The grounds often appear as any schoolyard does at recess. Children run happily and freely about with few cares. My community reminded me, though, that these children aren’t able to go home at day’s end to receive personal attention from family. My role was starting to make sense. I needed to find triumph in the small victories each day. Each time a child reaches for my hand, laughs with me, or hugs me—We’re winning together. We’re controlling those things that are within our control and overcoming a situation that could be looked at as unfortunate. It’s my role to love the kids as I love my family—as I love my community. Each child wants a hand to hold, a smile to brighten the day, a friendly hug that shows I care. Sometimes you need a community to point out the obvious, and I thank God for mine.
San Diego 2011-2012