Why is it that people often search for God in the open sky? I wonder about this as I watch the sun set from the second story of our building in Recife, Brazil. My volunteer term with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is quickly coming to an end and I sit slightly overwhelmed as I think about where this last year has gone. The accomplishments, if any, are minimal and my findings, about God or otherwise, are less certain than I anticipated. I am left wondering, "Is it enough that we try?"
Supposedly, I am serving, volunteering, living as part of a community that is committed to making the quality of life for others more sustainable. Our hope? To possibly lessen the colossal and sometimes incomprehensible amount of suffering we encounter in places such as these. Yet, I am surrounded by contradictions. I'm working at a children's center in the city dump one minute, shopping at the mall the next. I strive to live in simplicity with my community, yet have access to a car and the best health care when needed. I talk about preserving the environment, but am guilty of littering for lack of a trash can. I listen to my new Brazilian friends tell me their simple hopes of going to school, traveling, or finding a job, yet each day I am confronted by the meager reality they have in succeeding. I arrived, embraced a new world, and tomorrow withdraw, leaving much behind while at the same time reclaiming things lost.The MCC End of Term questioning has started: Did you grow? Spiritually? Vocationally? Personally? How? Be Specific. I now face the evaluating, measuring, and assessment. As a well socialized American, I find myself attempting to reconcile the year, comparing the beginning with the end, the old self with the new, improvements, gains, accomplishments and failures. Orientation to volunteering began with preparation for the unexpected, staying flexible, accompanying, empathizing, adapting. And now the pressure falls on pushing forward, making progress, attaining, putting my newly obtained skills to efficient and effective use. Like somehow it is time to get a reality check, as if I've been on a detour and have finally arrived back at the crossroads. Emily Haddad (2006 Krista Colleague) brings joy and talent to the Krista Foundation Seattle office as our first full-time intern. After graduating with a degree in Sociology, Emily spent a year in Brazil with Mennonite Central Committee. She worked with a community next to the city dump through a local Community Center which held programs for 200 kids, including a preschool, dance classes, drama, tutoring and recreation. In her free time she enjoys plotting new ways to convince Val and Destiny that an office cat would fill their life voids.