Hi everyone! I am Maggie Cook, a senior at the
. Today was unfortunately the
final day of service for our University of Dayton breakout. The day included leading two middle schools
retreats at Our Lady of Talpa, a K-8 school in Los
sharing a family meal, and closing with a final reflection. Boyle Heights
Our first retreat was for the 7th grade and carried with it the theme of building a classroom family. The main purpose of the retreat was to have the girls and boys of the 7th grade to interact with one another. Emma, their teacher, described the awkward tension between the girls and the boys as “tangible”. At first I was skeptical, how awkward could it be? Today my skepticism was changed into belief; Emma was right, you could feel how on edge the girls and boys were around each other.
The second retreat dealt with the 8th grade students (not at all awkward around each other, like the 7th grade) and their transition to high school. We talked with them about the differences between high school and 8th grade and had them think of themselves as high school students. We talked about goals they had for high school and had them each describe themselves, on paper, as a high school student.
Both of these retreats were a blessing to be a part of not only because of the interaction with children, but because of the value found in reminding people that they are a child of God. This was done by having all the 7th grade students write affirmations about their fellow classmates and the various gifts they graced the 7th grade family with. I am very appreciative to have witnessed different students being reminded of their goodness. You could see Christ’s love through the consideration these students had for one another.
Through this trip I have been lucky enough to encounter Christ through so many different people, places, and experiences. One of my favorite times of encounter occurs with the presence of laughter. Tonight at our family dinner, which was so delicious, laughter filled the air throughout the entire dinner. The joy felt among my new friends will be something I will not forget anytime soon.
The last part of the day was our final reflection. It was a look back on this week to remember where we found God, what lessons we learned, and to pray. As I spent more and more time thinking about these past seven days, the more I recognized how incredibly enlightening this entire experience was for me. I found God in places I never thought I would, was humbled by the homeless, learned about so many new cultures, and made a lot of new friends. But what I realized most is the true power of being where your feet are, loving without question or want for anything in return, and opening your heart to let the love of God flow in and out.
Thanks for reading!