These shared stories and reflections are an inspiring testimony to God's great working among us. The following excerpts provide a window into the Mount Carmel experience... witness what God has been doing on a personal level in the lives of our students.
I have never liked how I separated my social life from my faith. In the past I've been two separate poeple, good church boy on Sundays and ignoring my faith throughout the week. I found it easier to not be a believer than to live it out, even though I desired to. I eventually saw Carmel as the perfect opportunity to learn how to do that, to learn how to live out my faith no matter where I am or who I'm with.
My L'arche home has been very welcoming and has let me enter their regular routine. After supper it was just us girls left in the house. We cleaned up from supper and then I played some guitar for a resident. After that, Mary* put on her ABBA disc. She had her foam microphone out and was singing to ABBA. It looked like so much fun that the rest of us had to join in. Next thing I know we are all singing and dancing to ABBA. It was just a really fun 15-minute total ABBA jam-out.
Mount Carmel truly is a discipleship college, where we are encouraged to form real integral relationships with the instructors. Through this, my goals and perspectives on life–such as career and college choices–have become more practical and attainable, while still being something that I truly feel like I would thrive at.
1st Corinthians 10:31 says this, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God”. This verse is exactly how I want to live my life. Too often my mind gets caught up in doing things for my own gain, or for some temporary happiness. But my goal in life is to be able to live this passage out to the full extent. I need to be able to fit my life into God, not God into my life.
Everyday has its own stories of joyfulness. It brings me joy when a child comes over to me to share something out of the blue, which I usually have no idea what they may be talking about. I enjoy helping the students with their school work. The students' eagerness to learn and write is so beautiful and encouraging. Joy comes from the children's faces as they laugh and smile.
I think the thing that makes my placement difficult is the fact that in the midst of doing the tasks, it beacomes easy to disconnect the job with the goal. Not only am I task-oriented, I am also goal-oriented, so when I find myself doing something that doesn't seem to be going in any particular direction or doesn't have any particular purpose, it because gratingly boring and slow. Reminding myself why I am there helps me get through it, but sometimes I just have to push through, because God is using me in ways I can't see.
Carmel isn't just a school. It's a family. We do everything together and form a unique community that would never have existed without the bond of the classroom we study in.
At the start I was nervous about the service aspect of Carmel. I like to avoid situations that will make me feel awkward, so I decided ahead of time that I would do placements that would be easy. When the time came to choose placements, I felt like God wanted me to do something that would stretch me, so I decided to stay later at the Mustard Seed PAC Centre. This decision was a very good one. Choosing to work at the PAC centre showed me that I shouldn't be nervous to serve but I should go in with a loving heart, because people just want someone to love them and listen to them. It also helped me realize that there isn't an 'us and them', but there is only an 'us,' of which everyone is a part.
All of the staff and volunteers at my placement have very different tasks and roles to play but they each do their part diligently and cheerfully. I noticed this in the past couple of weeks and realized that it is such a great example of how the Church is to be. The Church is to be a group of people using their abilities to serve and love others. Everyone in the Church has a different role to play and no one role is above the other, and we are all using our diversity to bring unity. I have also noticed the staff's selflessness, love and joy in Christ. They are a great example to me and I have got to strive to have those same characteristics.
The importance of sharing the things you love. Often when you take interest in the things others are passionate about you learn to enjoy those things - which in result can grow the depth of the relationship.
Baking, photography, good conversations
When a staff member did a penguin slide across the boardroom table which resulted in him flying off the table.
I have learned how to love people even when I’m tired, distracted, or just not fond of them to begin with. One thing I learned was that by going about acting as if you love someone, you will actually find yourself loving them, even if that wasn’t the case before. Personally, I have never been the type to get excited over helping supervise children, but now that I have gotten to know the kids in my placement I really have come to love and appreciate them!
I'm hoping that I will be able to connect with the children in the Kid's Club well and that I will be able to bring light into the lives of the children. The impact doesn't need to be a big one but hopefully they can remember me for the love I show to them and make them think about why I acted the way I did, and make them want to keep looking and hopefully find the reason I was there to show love- Jesus.
I had to exercise some leadership and I also had to practice creating conversations with kids and others around me. The last few weeks there has been a new group of kids at my placement and making myself go and talk/hang out with them has been very helpful in changing my way of not thinking only about myself and my friends. Overall, just going out and serving has helped my practice and be in the mindset that it is not for my own pleasure that I do these things but for the good of others.
The most challenging thing has been to learn to talk to myself. At Jubilee Nursing Home, where I volunteer, there are several residents who either can't speak or find it difficult and therefore don't try. A big part of my duty at Jubilee is to visit with people during a show and kind of be with them. This can get awkward when you don't know who doesn't talk. There have been a few times where I have had to carry on a conversation with myself because getting up seemed rude or inapporpriate at the time. I have gotten better, though, and I am learning who all doesn't talk.
One day at my placement, it was close to closing and 2 of the clients got into a fist-fight. As the situation began to get settled by the staff and the two were escorted out, I remember being asked by another client if he could get some more soup. I quickly realized that I was staring and not helping anyone. It struck me that some conflicts in life need to be resolved by getting involved, but you can always be of help by controlling the surrounding situation.
It really opened my eyes to the reality and closeness of poverty- it was heartbreaking to see so many people living in such difficult situations. Despite terrible circumstances, almost all of the people that I had an opportunity to talk to were extremely open about their situations and where they came from...Most people just wanted somebody to talk to; somebody to sit and listen to their story. I think the thing that will affect my Impact placement here in Edmonton the most will be just learning to become a good listener. I have been helping out at an after school drop-in program for Jr. High students and, like most people, these kids just want someone to show interest in them. Everyone wants to feel loved and accepted...The Vancouver trip really opened my eyes to the fact that every human being has their own issues- some people are just better at hiding them. It's important to build positive relationships that are encouraging and trustworthy. Life is about showing love to one another the way that God shows us love.
I learned how to approach relationships in a way that served God and reflected my Christian values. I’m beyond grateful for the time I spent at Carmel, it was a year that challenged me in ways I needed to be challenged, that’s why I’ll never forget it.
Working with youth, eating food & travelling.
Some of the best conversations and funny moments occurred around that large kitchen counter over cups of hot chocolate. It played a big part in the development of friendships over the course of the year.
When I saw the Impact question for this week, I got consumed with the idea of GETTING something nice for someone. When I stopped to think about this concept, the materialistic concept of giving completely convicted me. God calls us to be the 'hands and feet' of Christ, not the 'iPod or gift certificate'. My special thing this week was to give encouragement to those serving with me. I wrote 2 encouragement notes with Tim's cards attached, addressed it to the 2 people, and left them anonymously in the office. These people have been really inspiring to me since I've been there, and they execute what it means to be a servant and have the attitude of selflessness.
This year I have been learning about how Jesus loved people who were otherwise hard to love, people that today's society would not like to be seen around. Jesus, with judgement from everyone around him, would talk and even touch them without the slightest worry about what the other people were thinking. Although this is not on the same level, for me it has been a huge learning curve to work with loud, sometimes dirty, 7 year-olds. I have learned a lot of patience and grace while working with them. I started out by acting like I loved the kids, and sooner rather than later I started to, surprisingly, love them for real!