At a staff retreat for The San Miguel of Providence, we were each given a quahog shell (which is truly the most Rhode Island thing ever). We were told that in this shell would be a rock that had a word on it and that we were to reflect on that word and maybe bring it into the 2018-2019 school year with us. I grabbed my shell and untied the twine around it. The shell was about the size of my palm and I held it in my hands for a moment before I was ready to open it. Inside this shell was a small white rock, much like a large pearl, and on that rock was a simple word: “Trust.”
Ever since I started my Lasallian Volunteer journey I have been trying to focus in on trust. Trusting that the program will place me at a site where I really fit in, trusting in myself that I really am making a difference, trusting in God that I am on the right path, trusting my community members to be there for me, you get the point. There’s a whole lot of trust that goes into being a volunteer, or really a person for that matter, and that can be really scary.
As a result, since I made the move to Providence, Rhode Island, back in the summer of 2017 I have been trying to be mindful of providence (as in God’s guidance). The starting half of my first service year was really rocky with adjustment and I questioned almost everything. My site director had chosen to not continue at San Miguel and so I felt like I was forced to immediately trust my instincts to try stay afloat alone in the office. During Midyear, I wrote in my journal, “God may be with me, but I do not recognize him. I may have accepted what he has given me, or I might not have. This is solely because I have been afraid to place trust in anything other than myself.” I felt in my gut, however, that I was meant to stay at San Miguel for another year and so I took that trust in myself and put that into God.
For the second half of my first year I began to place trust in my new site director, in my community, and in my students, and as a result things have come out all the better. So you can imagine how I felt at the beginning of my second year when I opened up that shell and saw “Trust.” In that moment I knew that God had a little chuckle. Through my volunteer journey, I have found one of my favorite quotes from De La Salle, which is: “Do not have anxiety about the future. Leave everything in God’s hands for he will take care of you.” While I wish I could easily turn my anxiety off, I found that by putting more of myself in the idea of providence, I felt more at peace.
Through my work at San Miguel, my heart has truly grown three sizes. Both my middle school boys and my graduates have taught me patience, compassion and of course, trust. I find myself easily getting into deep conversations with my boys and honestly there is no better feeling than knowing that they trust me. For those of you who are discerning whether or not to do a volunteer year or continue to be in the Lasallian Volunteers, my advice to you is to trust in the process. That means trusting your gut just as much as you may trust the staff. Trust that God has got your back and whatever you are doing, wherever you are, is where you are meant to be. Through my time as a Lasallian Volunteer, I have learned so much about trust and what it really means and I have grown to trust those around me, even in God’s plan (cue the song).
Maddi Larsen is a second-year volunteer serving at The San Miguel School of Providence in Rhode Island. She is a 2017 graduate of Saint Mary’s College of California in Moraga.