Monthly Archives: December 2018

­

Embracing the Unexpected and Trusting God’s Plan

2018 has been quite the year for me. I graduated from college, traveled the East Coast putting on mission trips for teenagers with Catholic Heart Workcamp, started a relationship with a guy who is one of my best friends, moved to Memphis, Tennessee, to start my service year as an LV, went on an epic fall break camping trip in the Smoky Mountains with my community member, plus a whole bunch more. Besides graduating college, nothing on that list was part of my plan for 2018. However, I am very grateful that they were part of God’s plan for me.

Looking back at the beginning of this year, I would have never expected to be where I am today but that’s what makes life fun. The unexpected. I have so many friends who have planned their life out to a T. They know exactly what company they want to work for, the year they want to get married, how many kids they want to have, the neighborhood they want to live in, etc. Planning out my life like that, in all honesty, scares me. You see, we can plan out our life precisely how we want it to be, but ultimately our life is in God’s hands. As Proverbs 16:9 says, “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.”

In March of my senior year I got my site placement for Lasallian Volunteers. I was hoping to go somewhere exciting like California or New York. I put in my application that I wanted to go literally anywhere but the Midwest. God had a different plan though. I was placed in Memphis, Tennessee, at De La Salle Elementary at Blessed Sacrament.
Originally when I got my site placement, I was told that I would be doing things like teaching religion, co-teaching reading classes, teaching specials classes, and things like that. However, when I arrived at my site, the principal offered me something different. He told me that they were still in need of a middle school science teacher. My background is in elementary education and middle school social studies. Teaching science was never really part of my plan. I trusted God’s plan and jumped right into my next adventure.

This job is a tall order. I am constantly reteaching myself science concepts and planning lessons that are engaging and differentiated to fit all my students’ needs. There are always assignments that need to be graded. Classroom management of middle schoolers has tested me more times than I can count. Sometimes I feel like I am failing, but my students always seem to give me reassurance. This reassurance comes in many different forms and exactly when I need it most. Whether it be in physical form such as a letter or Mexican sweet bread, or verbal affirmation like having one of my most difficult students thank me for making him guided notes, they always remind me that I am following God’s plan for my life. I know that my struggles are nothing compared to what some of my students are going through. At our school there are refugee families, single parent households and some where parents are not even in the picture. There are families who struggle to pay tuition and put food on the table. I know that school is a safe place for many of them.I have built meaningful relationships with my students, and they give me the motivation to keep following God’s call to serve.

Teaching middle schoolers is HARD. Community life can be challenging. Living over 700 miles away from home is difficult. Being in a long-distance relationship is not the most fun. But all of these challenges are part of God’s plan for me. I know that I would not be the person I am today without these things that were not necessarily all part of my own plan.

When I go home for the holidays my family and friends are going to be asking me what my plans are for next year. In all honesty, I really have no idea. I could potentially stay in Memphis, switch service sites, or move back to Minnesota. If I wanted to, I could even move to a different country. All I do know is that I will strive to follow God’s plan for my life no matter where it leads.

So, here’s to 2018 and all the unexpected things God has in store for me in 2019!

 

Sheyenne Bauer is a first-year Lasallian Volunteer serving at De La Salle Elementary at Blessed Sacrament in Memphis, Tennessee. She is a 2018 graduate of Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota.

 

By |December 12th, 2018|Categories: blog, news + events|Comments Off on Embracing the Unexpected and Trusting God’s Plan

December Ministry of the Month: Bethlehem University

In this month’s Lasallian Volunteers “Ministry of the Month,” the Lasallian Region of North America is featured. The ministry is Bethlehem University in the Holy Land and the Lasallian Volunteers are first-year LVs George Boateng and Jarred McKinney. George is a 2018 Graduate of Boston College with a bachelor’s in History and Sociology and Jarred is 2018 a graduate of Emory University with a master’s in Global Religions.

WHAT IS BETHLEHEM UNIVERSITY?

Bethlehem University is a Catholic co-educational institution in the Lasallian tradition whose mission is to provide quality higher education to the people of Palestine and to serve them in its role as a center for the advancement, sharing and use of knowledge. The university emphasizes excellence in academic programs and the development of students as committed people prepared to assume leading positions in society. The university fosters shared values, moral principles, and dedication to serving the common good. Founded in 1973, current enrollment is 3,295 students with 77 percent female and 23 percent. Of those students, 76 percent are Muslim while 24 percent are Christian. Students come from the areas surrounding Bethlehem with 46 percent from Bethlehem, 44 percent from Jerusalem, 8 percent coming from Hebron, and 2 percent coming from other places in the region.

WHAT SERVICE ARE GEORGE AND JARRED PROVIDING AT BETHLEHEM UNIVERSITY?

George coordinates the English language tutoring program and works as a TA for an English class. Jarred spends most of his time tutoring in English, is also a TA for an English class, and writes and edits for the Bethlehem University newsletter.

WHY DID JARRED AND GEORGE DECIDE TO JOIN LASALLIAN VOLUNTEERS?

For Jarred, he felt called to the mission of both the LV program and of Bethlehem University. He wanted to work for educational opportunities for people who might not otherwise get them. He says, “I became a Lasallian Volunteer because I believe that everyone loves learning, the first step is just learning how to learn. So, there is no venture more worthwhile than to accompany students in the journey of falling in love with learning.” For George, a trusted mentor introduced him to the program. He felt it was the best way for him to continue with his passion for social justice. He says, “I have always engaged in the civil activism. I believe in using my privilege to help people not blessed as I am to share in my freedom and rights.”

HOW DO GEORGE AND JARRED TOUCH THE MINDS AND HEARTS OF THOSE ENTRUSTED TO THEIR CARE?

Many Bethlehem students have to travel a great distance to get to the university. The political climate in Palestine is very unstable and can be dangerous. George and Jarred, along with the Brothers and Lasallians at Bethlehem University, offer safety, stability and quality education to the students entrusted to their care. George says, “Bethlehem University encounters the same challenges every person and institution confront in the West Bank due to socio-political reasons. However, amidst these struggles the institution endeavors to provide an education that is academically, socially and psychologically uplifting because of the belief that a well-rounded education is the best vehicle for positive changes. The most important thing my students need from me is my attention and dedication.” Jarred speaks of his experience when he says, “I think Bethlehem University attempts to combat this by instilling the idea that although Israel may occupy their physical bodies and their material resources, they cannot occupy your mind if you do not allow them to do so. That is the power of education, it is a liberating, life-giving force, and I think Bethlehem University aims to embody that. My students most need from me is to see that learning can be play, it can be fun. This removes the pressure and emphasis on grades and allows the learning experience to be enjoyable.”

HOW HAS LIVING WITH THE DE LA SALLE CHRISTIAN BROTHERS IMPACTED GEORGE AND JARRED?

Neither Jarred nor George had experience with the Lasallian charism or De La Salle Christian Brothers prior to their service experience. However, both volunteers have very positive things to say about their community experience at Bethlehem University. Jarred says, “Living with the Brothers has placed an emphasis on prayer and paying attention to the happenings of my life. Thus, praying multiple times a day has led me to be attentive to the presence of the Divine in the world. If, then, I am attending to God, my self-understanding rests in God. But, there is a lot of grey-area in this. Living with the Brothers has helped me to see that this grey-area is, in fact, holy ground.” George shared, “My time with the Brothers has taught me that they are just like everybody else, but they live a life dedicated to education. My experience has instilled an appreciation to living simply.”

WHAT DO GEORGE AND JARRED WANT TO SAY TO COLLEGE SENIORS ABOUT LASALLIAN VOLUNTEERS?

George says, “The volunteer year should not be about you, but about the people you are serving and the mission of the place you are serving under.” Jarred says of serving for a year after college, “I think sometimes that we make things too formulaic. A leads to B, B then to C, and so on. Perhaps it is better to think about life as a pilgrimage.”

 

 

By |December 12th, 2018|Categories: lv of the month, news + events|Comments Off on December Ministry of the Month: Bethlehem University

Lasallian Volunteers Apparel for Sale!

Lasallian Volunteers has partnered with Tommy Hilfiger to provide LV apparel! Support the LV program by purchasing an assortment of items for yourself, current LVs, Alums and children! Lasallian Volunteers will receive a portion of proceeds from sales. As part of this ongoing partnership, items include: sweatshirts, blazers, sweaters, polos and more! All items purchased will be shipped directly to you. Enter CHRI05 as the school code.

Shop now >  

Click here for ordering instructions >

By |December 12th, 2018|Categories: news + events|Comments Off on Lasallian Volunteers Apparel for Sale!

Christmas in Community

Take a moment and close your eyes. Reflect on what Christmas is to you. What do you think of when you hear the word “Christmas”? Do you see a tree with twinkling lights and lots of presents under it? Do you imagine yourself dressed in your Sunday best going to church with your family? Are you thinking of sitting next to the fireplace with a cup of hot chocolate (and marshmallows!… don’t forget the ‘mallows’) and enjoying a Christmas classic with your family? Or do you imagine all the home cooking and start to smell the aromas of homemade meals and baked goods? Whatever may come to mind, everyone shares many different traditions and experiences over Christmas.

Christmas was, and still is, a Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus, but it has become a worldwide tradition enjoyed by many from all different backgrounds. This holiday season differs per religion, but in general it is pretty festive in America. For those who are not religious or do not attend church regularly, are more apt to think of Christmas as the tradition it has become over the years. Decorating the tree, singing songs about Santa, exchanging gifts, watching classic holiday movies, and baking all the sweets from recipes passed down. These are just a few things most people might reminisce about when discussing their Christmas traditions. While living in community, the meaning of Christmas and the holiday itself means more and really humbles oneself when going through this experience.

In community, we do the basics, picking out a tree (even though it usually looks like the tree in A Charlie Brown Christmas), decorating it together, baking our favorite homemade goods from our family recipes, and watching the classic Christmas movies. What makes Christmas in community so different is learning from the Brothers the meaning of Christmas and partaking in Advent. Though I am Catholic, I do not have a very religious background, therefore making last year my first time partaking in Advent. Outside of Advent, living in community over the holiday season opens one’s eyes to see all the different backgrounds and traditions everyone in community has and is willing to share with one another. Christmas in community is seeing the joining of traditions from everyone in the house and the discussions around the table bringing everyone closer together through shared experiences.

Christmas in my community is celebrated from December into January. Since most of the community goes their separate ways surrounding the days approaching Christmas, we celebrate the conclusion of the holiday season on January 6th, which is Three Kings Day. On this day, we gather and invite over close friends of the community to celebrate and host our annual tradition of a gift exchange. Christmas in community has been one of my favorite experiences yet, and I cannot wait to experience it one last time this year.

Happy Holidays!

 

Jazmine Cole is a second-year Lasallian Volunteer serving at Serviam Gardens (a senior housing center) in Bronx, New York. She is a 2017 graduate of Arizona State University.

 

By |December 5th, 2018|Categories: blog, news + events|Comments Off on Christmas in Community