By Veronica Feliz, FC 18 Syracuse
Living in an intentional community can be hard. I thought it would be the easiest part of FrancisCorps, but I was wrong. We don’t have nights and weekends off from community, which has taken more adjusting than I had previously thought. We work 40 hours a week, then we go home and are still part of this community that needs attention and interaction. A lot of things in life are about balance, and this is no different. My two other community members and I struggled a lot at the beginning of the year because it seemed like we were always around each other and therefore, why would we ever go out of our way to intentionally spend time together?
But slowly we are learning how we can be an attentive, supportive, and intentional community whether we are spending a bunch of time together or realizing we need to do our own separate activities. We like to go out to coffee shops together and I love it because I think friendship is built on conversation, which comes easily over a cup of Mexican hot chocolate or a cappuccino. We also have different interests in TV shows, music, and ideas of fun. We share these interests with one another but we know the interest may not always be mutual, but that’s fine. We know we may have to often enjoy these interests alone or with others in the broader community, but that’s no problem because at the end of the day, we’re still a community who wants the best for each other.
I’m learning a bit of Swahili while working in refugee resettlement. One word that comes up all the time is “kidogo” which means small or slow depending on the context. So, do I know Swahili? Kidogo (A small amount). And how am I learning it? Kidogo, kidogo (Slowly, slowly). And that’s to be expected with almost anything. Whether I’m attempting to learn a completely foreign language or figuring out how to live in true community with two girls I just met, I have to remember that it comes kidogo, kidogo.
By Nina Hill, FC 18 Costa Rica
My first day at Manos Abiertas was my second time in a hospital. The first was when I was born, and I don’t have any lasting memories from that experience… Gracias a Dios. I was out of my element when one of the Hermanas called me in to a patient’s room. She chirped something in Spanish. Oh shoot, it was a question. Ummm think fast…
Whew I managed a response!! Oh no, what is she doing?? Is she handing me that child? She’s handing me that child. I’m not qualified for this…
I’ve had a lot of experiences like this that have scared me since I started working here in Costa Rica. I was scared when a bird fell from the powerlines right next to me on my way home one day. I (still) get scared when people strike up a conversation at the bus stop or when I have to ask for directions from a stranger. #introvert. I was scared my first day when Hermana Yentry handed me Gordita Bella, hooked up to machines and wailing, and told me to rock her until she fell asleep.
Even so, when Hermana Yentry asked me to hold la Gordita, she said something that I DID understand. No tengamiedo. That quickly became my mantra for this year. A few years ago, I started giving up something every year for a year. Often, I gave up meat or swearing or negativity, and sometimes these fasts lasted, but sometimes they did not. I came in to this year with ideas of what I wanted to give up, but as we’re always told before an experience like this, it’s impossible to expect what will come. My resolutions and fasts died away, but they were replaced with a new fast: a fast from fear. This doesn’t mean I’m throwing caution to the wind and being completely reckless here. Instead, I’m being aware of the things that make me scared, and I’m making a conscious effort to offer that fear up to God.
There’s no room for fear in my life right now. I’m too busy meeting people, making friends, practicing Spanish, and loving this crazy adventure to waste time being afraid.