Reflection on WorkCamp and Jr. High WorkCamp by Amelia Gil-Figueroa:
“With humility and joy may we model Mary’s radical yes in all aspects of our lives.”
As I reflect on these past two weeks, I can think of no better way to describe how God is teaching and molding me into a more perfect imitation of His love, than to repeat this line from our community prayer. I have had the blessing of serving the youth of our diocese at both High School Workcamp (HSW) and the combined Jr. High Workcamp (JHW) of five parishes (St. Leo the Great, St. Mark, St. Veronica, St. Paul Chung and St. Mary of Sorrows). As a Homebase Team member for HSW and then as a crew leader for JHW I was privileged to work alongside some amazing and God-fearing people who were ready and willing to say ‘yes’ to just about anything in order to serve the Lord and His Church.
As those who have previously served on the Homebase Team know, it is nothing short of long hours, lots of work and tired feet. And yet, if you ask any one of us, we’ll tell you that we can’t wait until next year. It’s not that we’re gluttons for punishment, but rather we get to see first-hand how the Lord touches the hearts and minds of so many young people and how their service makes a difference in their lives and the lives of the residents they help. We serve that they may serve. This year, I served once again as a member of the “Coffee Crew”. Having served on this “Crew” before, I was not new to the demands of the coffee world; but our Lord, who knows me better than I know myself, knows that I need to learn how better to be humble and how much more to trust in Him. One of these teaching moments came when one morning, the coffee for the entire camp did not brew. Though I did my best to find a solution, it was the help and suggestions of a friend and fellow “Coffee Crew” member that truly resolved the issue. All the coffee was brewed, placed all along the hallway wherever there was a working outlet. Now I like to be the problem-solver, to say that I did it. Of course, we can do nothing without the grace of Our Lord, I know that. But when it comes to tasks and works, it’s difficult for me to see the correlation between the earthly and the spiritual. It wasn’t until I had no control of the situation, that I realized that even the mundane morning routine of brewing coffee was teaching me to trust in Our Lord.
The minor (slightly major) coffee disaster was preceded by another incredible teaching moment. So many times I get comfortable in the way that I serve. I make coffee, I run errands, I do the ordinary small tasks. God doesn’t like comfortable; He likes to pull me out of my comfort zone. On one night during the camp, the teens are offered an incredible night of mercy with exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and the opportunity to go to confession. Teens are also given the opportunity to speak and pray with someone about anything that may be on their hearts. After completing a previous task, I was asked to be one such ‘Prayer Partner’. While I said yes, I remember thinking “in what way am I even remotely qualified to do this?” The simple answer, I probably wasn’t. But it was for some reason that I was asked, and if God meant for me to be there, who was I to question Him. I only spoke with two young ladies, but I will never forget their intentions. I only pray that it was not I who spoke, but the Holy Spirit, and that in speaking with me, they were able to find peace.
One of the biggest blessings was serving alongside my brothers and sisters in community, but more so was serving with my actual (read: biological) brother at JHW. Being able to share this ministry with him was truly wonderful, and one that I believe has brought us closer as siblings, and closer to our Lord. This was my first time as crew leader – I remember participating when I was in Junior High, but I never thought that one day I would be the adult crew leader. Here is another example of how our Lord is bringing me out of my comfort zone: my crew consisted of four junior high boys. I grew up with brothers and amongst all our family friend groups, I was the only girl, so I was not a fish-out-of-water, per se. But my ministry for the past year has been with high school girls and before that, I led bible studies for college freshman women. I was not afraid to be leading this group of young men, but I’m not sure I was completely prepared. Nothing extreme happened, in fact, they were all generally well-behaved and hard-working. I guess I was not prepared for the amount of energy spent and the amount of questions asked, mixed in with a few complaints. The Lord was teaching me to humbly accept that I don’t always know what to do but to do my best to do it with patience and joy.
One thing that I learned from my mother (and that is echoed in our prayer) is that whatever the Lord calls you to do “be joyful. Don’t walk around morose, or with a blank expression on your face. Always, be joyful.” Things may not go according to plan, you may be tired, you may have absolutely no idea what you’re doing or how you’re qualified to be doing it, but do all things with joy. The beauty of these past two weeks has been serving alongside so many people that do just that, they serve with joy. With humility and joy.