Wednesday, May 30, 2012

New Life, New Light

The following is a reflection written by Colin Henning, one of this year's North House Volunteers.  He prepared this talk as part of the North House's Pentecost reflections.

We have something in common, you and I. We have all been down; seemingly beaten by our losses. It can be tough to get back on your feet, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Prior to moving into the Amate House I had a falling out with my father. For those of you that do not know, I am the oldest child, and it is safe to say that our momentary split affected the others in our family. Once we were reconciled and were speaking again it was as if we had both gained an understanding of each other, and how important we are to the people we are dearest to.

Although I had to experience a loss, and spent many months grieving, my relationship with my father is greater now than it has been in years. We see and interact with each other in a new light, and with new, mutual understanding. I have been given the courage to speak of this event to a few of you in the past, and each time it has delighted me to see myself looking at such a situation with greater compassion, and a more open heart.

Each of us may not always be aware of our growth, and our healing over time, but then one day, here we are. We most likely have some sort of realization as if we were walking around with dirty, grimy glasses on which have suddenly been removed. You again become aware of the greatness of your life, and the gifted role you play within it. I begin once again to exude excitement, energy, and a caring confidence into those around me that I love. This leads me to a verse I feel speaks of the newness one can feel in life, and the strength necessary to share the gifts we have been given.

Matthew 5:13-16 -  “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. 
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."

Living as a light. When I had the moments of clarity that I spoke about earlier, it is as if I, Colin, was simply a shell. There was something instilled in me long ago that was making its way to the surface of my exterior. It is such a strong sense of life that all I want to do is share it and make it visible. I have felt the presence of Pentecost by living wife a new spirit, full of love and compassion for others. That is how Amate has helped me to receive more love this year than ever before. I would now like to lead us in a prayer of renewal. Thank you for listening to my story.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Letting God Lead

The following is a reflection written by Anna Amici, one of this year's Little Village House Volunteers.

Going into this year with Amate House, I told myself that I was going to be open to letting God work through me and lead me where He wanted me to go.  I wasn’t banking on Him turning my plans around and leading me in a totally different direction!

My mom joked when I started my site placement at Catholic Charities-West Regional Service as the coordinator of an after-school program and an Adult ESL teacher that I was going to fall in love with teaching and never be able to get out.  I laughed off her comment.  I was not going to change my plans of applying to Nurse Practitioner programs that I would dive into after my site placement was up.  However, as I started working with the students in my two programs, strange thoughts began to cross my mind.  Hmmmm. . . . I really seem to be enjoying working with these kids! Maybe there is something in this whole teaching thing!

As the year progressed, I pushed these thoughts from my mind.  I was struggling at my position as I started having to deal with an increased class size, students misbehaving and classroom management.  Yet, somehow, the idea of teaching still seemed appealing.  I felt as though I was making a real impact on my student’s lives and that my presence was actually helpful.  Despite often feeling overwhelmed by my job, I was able to realize that it was less the profession of teaching itself, but more a lack of experience on my part.  Even on my worst days with the students, there was still a thought in the back of my mind: Maybe you should go into teaching!  Naturally, I thought I was going crazy!  My kids don’t listen to me and my adult students have no idea what I am talking about.  Am I really considering this as a career?  But, the harder I struggled against the idea, the more persistent it became.  God was trying to tell me something, but I was very reluctant to let myself listen.

This past month, I finally realized that I was fighting a losing battle!  I could no longer fight against where God was leading me.  I am currently sending off my applications to teaching programs across the city (thank goodness for late deadlines) and hope to continue serving in that way.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Amate Magic 2012 - Thank you!!

We are so appreciative for all the guests, sponsors, and well-wishers who made Amate Magic 2012 such a success!

Please enjoy some of the sights and sounds from the evening...

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Serving, Teaching, and Learning

The following is a reflection written by Kim Dennis, one of this year's North House Volunteers.

Just a year ago now, I was a college student weeks away from graduating Loyola Marymount University, participating in all the senior events that I could, mourning the closing of an amazing four years of college, and safe in the knowledge that I had life plans for at least a year: Amate House. I was excited - felt called to do service, and was ready to move on to the next stage of my life. Also, the thought that I had a plan for a year was comforting amidst the panic of friends not knowing what they would be doing with their futures; but a voice still lingered in the back of my mind, saying “I don’t really know what I want to do either.”

And then before I knew it, there I was in orientation, going on amazing summer adventures, and acquainting myself to the unwelcome humidity of Chicago with time flying by at ridiculous pace. I was having a blast - still not knowing what I wanted to do “when I grow up,” but simply ready to dive into my year of service. I was content just enjoying the summer orientation time when I was introduced to housemates, social justice issues, and the lifestyle that I was to lead for the year.