By Elias Arias Rojas, FC 21
Over Christmas break, I had the opportunity to visit my family and friends back home in Costa Rica. The difference from the place I am currently calling home and the place I had called home all my life couldn’t have been more different! In just a few hours, I went from speaking English to Spanish, from wearing layers of clothing to just shorts and a t-shirt, and from seeing big buildings to big mountains.
While these were the easier changes to point out, my family and friends were curious about how I was growing spiritually and personally. It was difficult to explain how the first half of my FrancisCorps experience and life in Syracuse was transforming me but, one story is particular, helped me expressed it.
In my placement site at the Assumption Food Pantry and Soup Kitchen, I interact with clients from all walks of life. And one of the main reasons I love my job is that, despite the differences, we help feed all those who come through our doors. This is why an experience in November was stressful—we were running very low on sandwiches for the rest of the week. This meant that our clients, some who depend heavily on our sandwich program, would not be able to receive any during our afternoon and evening soup kitchen hours.
I was grateful to see how everyone at Assumption rallied to help me. The first task was to purchase all the ingredients with my community member Kate and Friar Rick. At the supermarket, I still remember the look of curiosity in some customers’ faces when they saw our cart full of ham, cheese, mustard and bread. When we arrived back at Assumption, we asked some staff members of the various ministries to also help. I am very thankful to Sister Dolly, A.J., Johanna, Friar Rick and my community members, who stopped what they were doing to assist me in making over 700 sandwiches.
While these last six months have been full of new adventures and experiences, like eating a bagel for the first time and picking up new vocabulary in English; nothing compares to how I am learning to embrace gratitude. Every day, I feel blessed to be surrounded by individuals with a heart for service, who remind me of the meaning of the Gospel call to action. With their example in mind, I hope to continue growing a heart for service and gratitude.
Elias is the Assistant Director of Assumption Church Food Pantry and Soup Kitchen. Visit our placement sites page to learn more about Elias’ site and others we offer.