“We are each of us angels with one wing. We can only fly embracing each other” read the quote beautifully depicted on a mural in one of the many Los Angeles neighborhoods with a past painted with struggle and high crime rate. However, the stories of transformation and unity for these communities and for those of us who participated in this immersion are stories that we are more inclined to share. Whether we take on the identity of messengers of God sent out to make his love known, I think it is safe to say that all of us in this immersion embraced the idea that we could do great things through community.
Without a doubt, one of the first instances when I acknowledged the presence of God and the Holy Spirit was when we unexpectedly came across a man named Jose who generously shared his story along with many important lessons about life and faith. It was mind blowing to have met someone who was a part of the Homeboys program and went on to helping others who were facing some of the same challenges as he had faced. This occurrence allowed me to identify the tremendous difference between coincidence and the mysterious works of the Lord. From the very beginning of the immersion we noted how everything was surprisingly connected from the gospel we heard on our first night at St.Monica’s Church to the enlightening aspect that the severe rain brought to our experience.
Often times I had to mentally remove myself from some of the activities and discussions we had just to take in how remarkable the love of the Lord was and how blessed I was to be able to experience it. Some of my favorite memories from the trip came during the nights when we would have discussions with other Marianist communities. Realizing how amazing this great community of people is and that we were each very important parts of it was extremely humbling. It was also wonderful to encounter the many different people who had devoted themselves to God’s works and spreading the message of his love to those many feel aren’t worthy of love at all.
Prior to the immersion, I would often find myself seeking God and waiting for him to show Himself to me in times when I felt lost. This attitude led to a lot of challenges that I faced as I became consumed in the busyness of my life. It wasn’t until I met a man named Paul at the Union Rescue mission who helped me to see that we were never separated from his love, we just didn’t realize how we were the force that pushed Him out of our hearts. I still struggle with being able to completely place my trust in God when things get out of control in my life or don’t necessarily go according to my plans but I am trying to be more accepting. I have seen such great strength in the people we encountered and it has taught me to be more grateful for the life I live even when things may get out of control.
After the trip I struggled with trying to figure out what my resolution would be as I was bombarded by questions of how it has changed me or how I plan to change other things in my life because of it. The only answer that I could give people was how I wasn’t sure yet but I knew it was going to take a lot of practice. Somehow that’s exactly what my resolution has panned out to be. I resolve to practice in the very words and deeds that are going to help me build upon the word I chose in the beginning of the immersion which was community. Whether it be through simple acts of kindness or great gestures, I would do anything I could to show others God’s love. One of the greatest things I have taken from the experience was the immense amount of love and grace I felt on the immersion and I am very enthusiastic in my efforts to practice being rooted in His love. I do not think I could ever express or put into words how enlightened I have become from this immersion. There were far too many revelations made and amazing insights shared. However with the resolution to practice spreading God's love, I hope to be able to share with others what I have felt even if it only at a glimpse. I will forever be grateful for this experience and all the beautiful people I encountered on it. Thank you :)
Hannah Ann Sablan
Chaminade University of Honolulu
Chaminade University of Honolulu