Day 4: Bright Hearts, Bright Minds

Aloha, everyone! This is Faith, Joey, and Annie. After a long day of service yesterday, we were able to sleep in a bit and at 9 o'clock, we departed for San Gabriel Mission. This is one of the many histroic missions in LA. Here, we did something a little different than we have been. We broke into groups and spoke with each of our adult leaders about the Marianist charisms, leadership, and social justice. Br. Mark and Br. Brandon explained how charisms are gifts of the Holy Spirit that we can use to mold our own spirituality.  Brian helped us to reflect on how we can set goals and develop our own personal visions.  Later in the week, we're sharing our visions with each other. We talked with Mo about the difference between social justice and charitable works, and how they are different in that social justice goes beyond good deeds and aims to change systems that are in place.

San Gabriel Mission Bells
Next, we went to Dolores Mission and had lunch in the plaza. Dolores Mission is a parish and school that is located in Boyle Heights, one of the lowest income areas in LA. Their youth minister, showed us the church and told us about the history. Each night, they open their doors to up to 50 men in need of a place to stay. We were also given a tour of the school and later we were given the opportunity to work with the children. Dolores Mission has done a lot of work involving the security and academic success of the children in the community. Six years ago, a high school in the area had a graduation rate of 40%, and within two years, it improved to 60%, with the help of the Dolores Mission. The principal and assistant principal spoke to us about the history of the school and we were immediately struck by their passion and commitment to their students. We helped the kids with their homework and then played outside with them. It was interesting to see the progress that the students made throughout the day and really fun to interact with them.

Dolores Mission Church
 
Dinner with Jesuit Volunteers
One of the most challenging parts of this experience was working personally with the students. At the beginning, we were apprehensive about dealing directly with the children. They were very overwhelming and full of energy. Many did not want to focus on their homework and were eager to get out of the classroom, sometimes showing violence in the way they interacted with each other. However, it did get easier as the day progressed. By the end, we were able to cooperate with them and we all seemed to enjoy the experience.

We ended the day by having dinner with members of the Jesuit Volunteer Corp. We were treated to pupusas before reflecting on our experiences throughout the day and the week. We were really impressed with the dedication of these women and their enthusiasm for their work. Overall, today was, once again, a great experience and we look forward to the rest of the week.

God bless!
With love and prayers,
Joey Blankman, Faith Leasiolagi, and Annie Kyne

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