The Last Supper

My name is Elyssa Barja Lim and I come from Chaminade University. I am part of a Marianist Lay Community in Chaminade called Hokupa'a. I was blessed to be chosen as one of the four participants to present our school. This trip has sincerely opened my heart and mind to everything and everyone I never imagined. Today is the last full day we have together before we disperse to our separate directions and go back to our college life. How does one even begin the conclusion of this wonderful and empowering week? Getting to know people, filling our hearts with their faces and names, and listening to everyone's different stories, you start to realize that God has been present all along. I noticed that it was during their darkest moments that they found redemption. All the people who run the programs we've visited were great people with great stories, but as were the people whom these programs were made for; for example, teachers like Emma who stayed in St. Rays, Paco from Homeboy Industries, Jose from Homeboy Ind., Dion from Union Rescue, Becca from Catholic worker, Fr. Ted, etc. After focusing on so many different people throughout the week, we began this day as a focus on ourselves. We took a hike up the Monrovia Canyon Falls and used breathing exercises as part of our reflection. Along with the breathing we had to choose a word that we used as a focus; my word was 'Peace'. As we went through our quiet journey, I found myself thinking of all the things I had to do when I get back to school. I had to finalize my schedule, find a job, and realized I had missed a deadline for a scholarship. Upon realizing this, I lost my breathing pattern and began stressing. 'Peace' my mind said, 'Peace'. What's done is done. I could apply again next year. This instantly brought me back to my normal breathing pace and being present. Inhale, exhale. Peace. We took pictures at the top on the waterfall area, although it was freezing cold. It was wonderful seeing the community do this last bonding experience.
After the hike we went back to the villa and had a short but sweet presentation from a Carmelite sister who takes care of the villa we stay in. her name is Sr. Maria. She told us about the different kinds of nuns and how she is in a religious order that is different from a cloistered Carmelite nun. Their religious order does things such as provide medical institutions, education, etc. for the people who need it most. These nuns definitely take silent prayer to a whole other level! After she left, we began preparing our special potluck feast. Each university presented a dish that kind of presented where they were from. University of Dayton prepared grilled butter corn-on-a-cob and buckeyes, St. Mary's cooked up pork and chicken fajitas, and Chaminade University prepared fried rice, banana lumpia, latiya, and char sui pork and chicken. After our delicious dinner the community came together to clean up and had an impromptu karaoke/jam session. Reflections followed soon after.
The reflections were held in the chapel and we were each given an activity to do. We sat in our separate corners and wrote prayers, things we've seen or taken from the experience, and any of the 'epiphanies' we've had. We each put a sticky note on a poster and walked around reading everyone else's comments. All the while, our talented Brian played songs in the background. After that, we gathered together and exchanged prayers and hugs. It was sweet.
How can I go back to being a college student after experiencing everything we've experienced in this short period of time and seen things that are usually hidden from the world? I'm really going to miss everyone here.

Elyssa Barja Lim
Chaminade University of Honolulu
American Samoa

Hello everyone, my name is Hannah Ann Sablan and I am a junior at Chaminade University of Honolulu. As our final full day in LA comes to a close, it has been remarkable to reflect on how much has taken place within the course of this week. I recently looked through a couple of pictures I had taken when we had first arrived and thought about how it seemed so long ago that we started this journey. In the beginning of the week our advisors asked us to think about a word to keep in mind and reflect upon throughout the week. I chose the word community and at first I doubted whether or not I chose the right word to encompass the whole immersion experience I was to have. However, through the insight of our day to day encounters with our LA immersion family, the groups of workers within the different organizations we volunteered at, the neighborhoods that we went to, and the various marianist groups who had opened their homes to us for nights of sharing and camaraderie I have never had a better understanding of what a community is.
At the core of this realization, I have come to find that at the center of a community is love and the glue that binds us is our faith in God and willingness to serve in His name. It isnt enough that we saw things we never imagined, heard stories that have changed  our view on things, or have seen faces that we will never forget. This trip has allowed me to see how truly overwhelming Gods love and the Holy Spirit can be. It's unfortunate that often times people within these communities only discover this after much pain, loss, and hardships. It's through our weakness that we are fully able to realize how we may find our strength through God and then within ourselves.
 Prior to the immersion, we were given various materials that were to help us prepare for some things we could encounter on the trip. With this, many of us opened up about some fears we had of not being able to fully help or start change. My initial view of the places we were serving at was that they were places full of pain in despair. Afterall, these were communities with homelessness, drug abuse, poverty, and gang violence. However after finally having some time to work with many of these communities and organizations, I came to realize that for every source of despair the efforts to heal that pain were twice as great as the source of it. These communities are filled with so many people who are doing great things to promote change and have devoted their lives to spreading love. The fact that there was so much love everywhere we went and in everything we saw was a true testament of our ability to see the God in others as well as in ourselves.
I can't imagine a better way to have started this new year, new semester, and the rest of my life with the newfound knowledge and experiences  that have come out of this immersion. But now comes the scary part. At this point we are all faced with the question of what is to come next after we leave Los Angeles and return to our communities back at school. In all honesty, I have no clue. There is no way to tell of what is to come in each of our futures and for the most part I'm completely fine with that. However, a week ago I wouldn't have had the same sense of peace with this uncertainty. Through occurrences such as running into people like Jose who shared his life story and experience with Homeboy industry and talking with other individuals in places like Catholic worker in skid row, I believe that all of us on this immersion have realized that nothing really ever goes according to plan but that's ok. There are going to be times when you're completely thrown in a direction you never would have imagined yourself going down but that's okay. It's in times like those when we must surrender and put our full trust in the plan that God has for us.
Yes, we may not all have a clear vision of what is to come when we leave but I know that we'll all be fine regardless. I've been blessed to become a part of this marianist immersion family with a group of extraordinary individuals who I am more than certain will have incredible futures and will impact their communities in the most positive ways. At one of the last dinners we had with a marianist community, Brother Skip talked about how with groups such as ours, the future of the marianist and the rest of our communities are in good hands and I couldn't agree more! We may not know what is to come from this experience right away but we are a group of individuals who are all very passionate about what we do so whatever is to come will be great and guided by the faith. 

Hannah Ann Sablan
Chaminade University of Honolulu


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