Interconnections and Humbleness

Aloha ka kou, ‘o Kalawai’a Shibata kau inoa. Hello, my name is Kalawai’a Shibata. I am a sophomore at Chaminade University. This is the second day of the L.A. Immersion trip and so far I am practically speechless for the things I have witnessed today. Today, myself and 5 other people went to Rescue Mission center and helped with their morning breakfast operations and had the tour of the facility. I met people from all sorts of backgrounds and ethnicities. When we first arrived on site, we were put to work in the kitchen for breakfast duty, there we got to serve and interact with the males of the program. All of them were very thankful to be given breakfast and had the best manners, “Good morning, thank you very much”, “Sir, thank you for breakfast”. The one person that stood out to me the most was this man who I spoke to me the most. We didn’t talk very much out side of the “thank you” and “you’re welcome”, however his actions spoke to me the greatest. When he first came through the line he was very polite and went about his way. When the lined opened back up for seconds, those that were coming through were allowed to grab more than 1 plate. He came up to me asking for more, I was about to give him two plates until he told me, “no, one is fine, thank you” with this really big smile. He came back to the line two more times, except on his final turn, he took 3 plates and said that he was going to give to those out on the street that weren’t able to get food. His humbleness spoke to me on great levels, he isn’t as fortunate as we are in having the amount of food as we do, yet he only took what he need to be happy and content, along with thinking of others and bringing them food.

Later on in the day, we visited the cathedral here in L.A., it is a spectacular place to witness and visit. The tapestries on the wall, showing all different types of people, from age, ethnicities, backgrounds, places, all proving that God works in many ways through all people. We were given an envelope of different saints that were on the tapestries, I was given Charles Lwanda. He was a man from Uganda that fought against in the injustice from the ruler at that time, Mwanda. Mwanda, had Charles killed at the age of 26, Charles taught and instructed his followers to stand up for injustice through Christianity. I reflected on this Saint and I felt there was a connection between myself and him. He fought against injustice and I want to join the military to help fight against the injustices around the world. This week is filled with so many opportunities to meet people and it seems as if one thing leads right into the other. I can’t wait for the rest of this week.

Kalawai’a Shibataui
Chaminade University of Honolulu
O’ahu, Hawai’i

Hello, (sorry if the grammar is off, but it's pretty late) my name is Amairany Franco, but I'm also known as Amy since it's easier for people to pronounce and remember. I am from St. Mary's University in San Antonio,TX, where I am a sophomore. Our morning today started pretty early, we had to be out the door by 6:35 a.m. (I never wake up this early). I was part of the group that attended and helped the Catholic Worker community, also known as the "Hippie Kitchen."  One of the first things that struck me when we arrived was how welcoming and how warm everybody was- especially it being that early in the morning. We got to work right away, chopping, buttering, rinsing, and just overall everybody working together as a unit (reminded me of a bee hive) to get the meal ready. In the midst of all the preparation you do get to speak to the other volunteers that really dedicate their lives to this, and it's amazing to hear their stories. It's a place full of happiness, and gratefulness. (Quick funny little story) One of the persons I met today, her name was Susan, and let me tell you, she is a strong woman. I don't know how long she's been chopping onions for, but it's been long enough for her tear ducts to be dead, as she so put it. We were all crying our eyes out, but she was peeling and chopping 'em as if it was nothing. Once everything was ready, which was around 9 a.m., we split individual duties (organization is key, and they've got it down), and opened up shop. I absolutely loved serving the food line. I think it really exposes you to the conditions that this population has to withstand, not only was it cold, but it was pouring as well. They travel long distances to get there,the lucky ones live in tents, but when asked how they're doing, many of them responded with "blessed." I think that speaks volumes on how they look at life, and how they don't dwell on the bad circumstances per se, but they push through and they really value every little thing. I specifically remember this woman breaking down in tears and hugging me because of how grateful she was that we were helping her. One of the Catholic Worker community's big message is to really smile and be glad in what you're doing, and to recognize that these are your brothers and sisters in Christ.

As we were walking to the car to drive to the next site, one of the cross ways we came across had an overflow of water, which had really turned into a mini river. What amazed me was this one homeless man, who was carrying an umbrella, turned it upside down so that we would be able to step on it and cross. He was willing to give up his only protection from the rain in order for us not to soak our shoes. Truth be told, our shoes got soaked nonetheless, but I was struck by that humbleness. He didn't know us at all, and really could've kept on walking, but chose to stop. It just reminded me that it's those that have the least that are willing to offer the most.

There was so much more that we did that afternoon, but I'll try to wrap it up with the last thing we did, which was have dinner at St. Ray's PLACE Corps community house. Let me just say it was delicious! Chocolate inside chocolate I need to say more? We all got to really sit and share in conversation, but there was one person specifically who touched me with her passion and words. I'll do my best to remember exactly how she said it, but it was more or less along the lines of: "It doesn't matter where you're from, or where you are on your religious journey, as long as you don't stop pursuing that relationship with Jesus. It's crazy the things you're able to see and notice, the way everything's interconnected. It's beautiful. Never stop stop pursing that relationship. I truly believe that if you're on fire, you'll set the world on fire."

I'm excited for what the rest of the week has to offer. Already, I have so many feelings and experiences on this trip that I am so grateful for, and will never forget.

Amairany Franco
St. Mary's University
San Antonio, Texas


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