Duchesne Center, Life Lessons, and Spiritual Growth

Looking at his disciples, he said:
“Blessed are you who are poor,

for yours is the kingdom of God.

Blessed are you who hunger now,

for you will be satisfied.

Blessed are you who weep now,

for you will laugh.

Blessed are you when people hate you,

when they exclude you and insult you

and reject your name as evil,

because of the Son of Man.

(Luke 6:20-22)

As a Duchesne Scholar, I had the privilege of participating in various community service activities. The service I have done this semester has allowed me to reflect upon my life and the life of others. Yet, before mentioning and reflecting on the community service that I have been a part of this semester, I believe it is important to go back and take a look at what I did this past summer because it influenced my view on this semester’s community service work. 
 This past summer, I had the privilege to do a lot of community service in my church, which helped me understand the purpose of serving and treating with people: to make them feel loved. The community service that I did consisted of serving as a monitor for little kids from ages five to eight in a public school built by my church, and teach them about our wonderful God. The experience was new to me and I was able to learn as much as the kids in the school. I was able to learn about my God and His Scriptures (the Bible) as I taught it to the children. Making them smile and have fun and be happy was the price fro me as I did this during the summer. 
 Due to the wonderful service I did during the summer, therefore, I came back to college this semester full of energy and more motivated than ever to serve more and do as much community service as I could. I found out how gratifying it is to make others smile and bring them to the right path of life. Proclaiming God’s mercies and grace to those who don’t know of Him is all I wanted to do. So, this is why I was really excited and looking forward to working with the Duchesne Center and being active in as many activities as portable for community service. Even though my work load was extremely heavy (with 20 credits and five jobs), I took the time to serve others whenever I could through the Duchesne Center weekly activities. 

I remember talking to to one homeless man during one of the Midnight Runs this semester. His name is Seth. He was telling me and my friend, Greisis, about how sad, disappointed, and angry he felt with life. He blamed all New Yorkers for their meanness and lack of heart because when he, a homeless man, is seen by them on the streets, they do not offer to help him in any way. For that reason, he said, he will also be mean and selfish and uncaring about others. He said that his response to the mean New Yorkers is to be a mean homeless man with the same attitude as them. For some reason, Seth thought that he could fight fire with fire and get a positive result- which is impossible. Seth’s approach to the problem was totally troublesome and wrong. He was doing exactly the opposite of what God teaches us through the Scriptures: 27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you. (Luke 6:27-31). In this same chapter, God teaches us to forgive and love our enemies (Luke 6:37) and to fix ourselves before wanting to fix others (Luke 6:42).
 There is just one reason of why Seth was taking this wicked approach to his life problem. Seth does not know about God or His teachings. Romans 10:14 says: 14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?
Knowing this and that God wants me to proclaim His name, glorify Him in whatever I do, and to bring the good news to others, I decided that I should speak to Seth about God. I told Seth to not focus on people so much; they will disappoint you because they are not perfect. That if he really wants to know someone in whom he can find hope and love, that would be in our Lord. I also tried to tell him that he, should be different from the people that he is angry about instead of holding a grudge against them and imitating their faulty behavior because we should be the change we want to see. However, I think Seth was more focused on complaining rather than finding a solution to his problem. He did not seem interested in anything I had to say – constantly interrupting me to keep complaining, as if I was not trying to say anything at all. And even if he did not agree with me, I hope that some of what I said to him would make him reflect on his life later on. I hope so. All that is left is to pray for Seth so that he can come to God’s feet and find the joy, happiness, and love that he needs in Him who love us like no one else can. Honestly, that was the first time I spoke to a stranger about God, and I wish to get better at it.
 On a different note, listening to Seth made me realize how ungrateful I have been. I have so much and still feel unhappy many times, not realizing that God has given me so much. I also realized that God gives everyone life, and that is the best gift we could ever receive.
I have to say that the community service I did this semester was more than just going and doing as I was being instructed, for the sole purpose or earning “Duchesne Hours” and be done with that responsibility. To me, each moment I took to serve others thought the Duchesne Center was a moment I could take to think about other people’s need instead of my own, to practice selflessness, to imitate Christ in His humbleness, service, and love towards others. Throughout each week, I had more and more workload from my classes, but doing community service allowed me to take some time off and think about others, not only myself. In other words, it was therapeutic for my own mental health, which sometimes was full of stress, frustration, and sadness, either from school work or for lack of spiritual fulfilment. Therefore, I am very thankful to be part of the Duchesne Center. It is a way to keep me involved with others and it reminds me to reflect on what is really important: making this world a better (temporary) home for everyone. I can be very selfish and self-centred, and the Duchesne Center has definitely made me get out of my personal bubble and help others who are usually far worse than I am.