Following God’s Plan

By Veronica Hotovy, FC 18 Costa RicaSantiago Crespo 2

When I applied to FrancisCorps, I had a pretty good idea as to what I wanted to be doing during my year in Costa Rica (or so I thought). I have always been particularly fond of the young adult population. FrancisCorps doesn’t work with that many young adult programs in Costa Rica, so kids were on the radar as well. And after four years of studying psychology, social work, and Spanish I was pumped to finally be doing something I’d spent so much time reading about.

I remember the first time my director (shout out to A.J.!) asked which sites I was most interested in. Rostro de María, Al Niño con Cariño, and even maayyyybe Manos Abiertas.

Little did I know.

During the discernment process of my placement site, I read a lot of Brady Kegley’s blog (a pretty wonderful FC volunteer from the Costa Rica group the year before me) of her experience at Hogar Santiago Crespo.

I’m going to be really honest. Santiago Crespo was one of the places that interested me the very LEAST when I applied. I’d never been particularly drawn to working with the elderly, and a nursing home just didn’t sound that appealing. Even less so knowing I would be working in physical therapy, which is kind of the opposite of everything I (thought) I wanted from my FC experience.

But it’s funny how God works sometimes. I started reading Brady’s blog, and I began thinking, “Oh, that sounds kind of fun..”

I was being torn between not wanting to give up the idea that I’d had of what I wanted, but also wanting to be open to whatever God wanted me to do and thinking that mayyyybe it was not going be what I had imagined.

The next time A.J. called to talk more concretely about placement sites a month or two later, I was very uncertain of where I would end up working. The conversation started off with ‘there’s only two volunteers in your community, so there’s a lot of flexibility in choosing your placement site.’ Basically, being a little community meant I had (more or less) the ability to choose the location I wanted. But then the conversation continued with ‘I know you said you were really interested in this, BUT what about Santiago Crespo?’

A.J. pitched his reasoning for suggesting Santiago Crespo well but the decision was ultimately mine to make.  I listened and then took a couple of days to think and pray, but as soon as A.J. mentioned Santiago Crespo, I had this feeling that I was not going to be working with kids or psychology or anything I had been imagining for the last few months.

I’ve now been at Santiago Crespo for 8 months, and I couldn’t be happier. I’m thankful for my amazing coworkers and all of the wonderful therapy students I’ve had the opportunity to work with. I’ve had the chance to learn something entirely new and gain some pretty useful PT skills. The señores are the biggest blessing. Nothing fills me with joy the way they do. I get to dance and play pool with them all the time (even though these 80+ year-olds are much better dancers than I will ever be).

It was definitely not what I expected, and certainly not what I thought I wanted, but I wouldn’t trade my job at Hogar for anything. God’s plan was much better than mine.

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The Holy Trinity Revealed in Community

By Nicolette Tiernan, FC 18 Syracuseimg_2871.jpg

As time passes here in Syracuse I have found that there are three different, distinct communities that I am constantly called to serve. They are my immediate FrancisCorps community, the community at my ministry site at the Food Pantry and Soup Kitchen, and the greater Assumption community. As I have reflected on this more deeply, I find it interesting to think there are three main communities I work with and how they closely relate to the three individual yet connected parts of the Holy Trinity.

The greater Assumption community relates most closely in my eyes to my image of God the Father. From the beginning of the year, our FrancisCorps community was welcomed with open arms into Assumption. All of the love we received was almost overwhelming. Everyone wanted to know who we were and everything about us and the love and guidance we received from the start made me excited to see how the year would unfold. The more we have gone to mass at Assumption the more we have had the opportunity to get to know the wonderful families who belong to the parish. We have been invited over to community member’s houses for dinner and conversation allowing us to build deeper more meaningful relationships. Today, we find ourselves engaging in conversation after mass with many of the families who have taken us under their wing, just as God the Father looks over us from above. The Assumption community has become a second family for us here in Syracuse. The eternal love of God the Father is abundantly present in the Assumption community and I am so fortunate to have the opportunity to experience that love and care throughout my time here in Syracuse.

My immediate FrancisCorps community which consists of Kaitlyn, Veronica, and me parallels my understanding of God the Son in the Holy Trinity. Living as a smaller community of three has had its highs and lows, but because of the relationships we have built with one another grounded in faith we have been able to work through conflict with one another, laugh, and cry with each other. Having community night every week is one of my favorite aspects of the FrancisCorps experience because we have an intentional time to hang out with one another and get to know each other better, just as Jesus wants to know us more closely. One of my favorite community nights was spent just sitting at our kitchen table talking to one of the Friars from Assumption (minor disclaimer: we were attempting to make these bracelets as our activity but we kind of gave up on that after awhile and just decided to hang around and chat instead). Jesus wants to be in relationship with each and every one of us just as we as FrancisCorps volunteers want to enter into meaningful relationship with each other. I am always surprised at how the most average nights can turn into some of the most meaningful ones just by taking the time to talk with one another.

Lastly, the community at the Food Pantry/Soup Kitchen most closely resembles my interpretation of God the Holy Spirit. I am so blessed to be surrounded by volunteers who are willing to spend their time helping out at the pantry. No matter the challenge I need to navigate at the pantry whether it be finding a driver to fill in for another volunteer to pick up donations from local stores, taking inventory on the abundance of in-kind donations that come through our doors every day, or finding someone to hand out sandwiches at the window everyone is willing to help out in whatever way they can to improve the functionality of the pantry and soup kitchen therefore allowing us to serve the community who comes to us to the best of our ability. By the grace of God and overwhelming presence of the Holy Spirit in my daily ministry getting up to go to work every day is such a blessing rather than a burden.

These three communities call me to serve in different way. Each community has its own needs, strengths, and weaknesses but at the end of the day are all united in God.