By Elias Arias, FC 21
I met my first group of FrancisCorps volunteers in 2014 as a member of JUFRA, which is a Franciscan youth group in Costa Rica. I still remember that it was a large group and from that moment, the mission of FrancisCorps captured my attention but I never imagined that I would now be writing as one of its volunteers. As the years passed, I met a total of five different groups of volunteers, who had their unique reasons as to why they left the comfort of their homes in the U.S. in order to serve the people of Costa Rica. They are among the greatest people I have met in my life.
After nine years of learning about the Franciscan charism and serving my brothers and sisters through JUFRA, I decided to apply to FrancisCorps. I officially arrived as part of FrancisCorps 21 on August 2 with many mixed emotions as I knew that it would be a difficult but rewarding experience given that English is not my first language. In those first few weeks, when people spoke to me, I would get very embarrassed and nervous because I did not know if I was answering correctly. During the first week, we traveled to Maryland for Orientation retreat, where I had the opportunity to know the members of my community better. Although I often felt mentally exhausted from hearing and speaking English all day, Caroline, Lauren, Kate, Steph and Tanner were and continue to help me navigate these new experiences.
I found that seeking silence, mostly because I did not want to hear any more English, gave me the opportunity to rest and appreciate the blessings that will come from this year. The blessings so far have come in sharing community meals and prayer, in translating for a newly arrived family from Cuba at the food pantry, and in experiencing the change in seasons. I do not know what God has plan for me in the next few months but I have confident that every day will bring a new blessing.
Elias is the Assistant Director of Assumption Church Food Pantry and Soup Kitchen. Visit our service sites page to learn more about Elias’ site and others we offer.