Life’s Most Meaningful Delay: The Jesuit Volunteer Experience
By Ynez Alcid
Delays — I think everyone would agree with me that nothing good comes out of it. Plane delayed = waste of time in the airport. Submissions delayed = could get you fired. Boyfriend delayed = leads to a fight. A year delayed on anything = basically puts your whole life on hold.
I experienced one big delay in my life and it was the year I spent away from home to live with the farmers of Sumilao, Bukidnon. My ‘I give up’ moment was pretty simple: I was rushing for a mid-year submission at the office, while the rest of my friends were already at a gala dinner to culminate our annual company volunteer month. In hindsight, I don’t know why I was so insistent on being there – I never even got to participate in any of the volunteer programs throughout the month. In any case, while the rest of them shared stories about their charitable work hours, I missed out. It hit me that I was really losing a part of myself in the corporate world: the part that had time to volunteer to feed the hungry, spend time with the lonely, comfort those who were sick. I couldn’t continue living that way. It sounds so melodramatic — so yes, I was clearly going through a quarter-life crisis. Whatever you call it, it pushed me to send in my resignation the following month, and sign up to be a volunteer for the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVP) About JVP.
With the Community members who shared their gift of laughter and wisdom
J.V.P. — How do I even begin to describe it? It’s like…holding your breath for ten whole months, as if you’re just always waiting. Waiting for the rain to stop leaking through the roof; waiting for donations for the community; waiting for clean water to drink and shower in; waiting for a hot meal; Waiting for your family to come visit; waiting to go home; Just simply, waiting to stop waiting for so long.
With fellow Jesuit Volunteers in one of the many beautiful waterfalls in Mindanao
Ironically, being in the ‘waiting place’ for so long actually bought me time to experience everything else. I saw the beautiful waterfalls of Mindanao. I learned another dialect. I witnessed the lives of amazing volunteers, who are the most beautiful and generous people I’ve ever known. I watched about a hundred sunrises. I slept under a plethora of stars. I danced with chieftains. I laughed, I shared tears, and I loved. I grew kinder and more patient, I was humbled; and in that lowliness – the smallest of gifts brought me so much joy. I learned to always trust, always hope, and always persevere. I was stretched to the limits and I was faced with my shortcomings, yet despite all that I was still asked to give, give, and keep giving. I learned the hard way that truly, love never fails. Until now I can’t believe how much I’ve gained by simply waiting on God for one short year.
With one of the community members that made ‘waiting’ a time of joy and thanksgiving
Delays — Yeah! I guess something good can come out of it. Would I do it again if given the chance? To be honest, I don’t think I’d have the same courage to do so. But I do know this – the next time I get a big-life-delay, I’ll know that the only way to get through it is to simply sit at His feet and wait.
The break of dawn of Easter 2013, Monastery of the Transfiguration, Malaybalay Bukidnon: Easter is there to remind us that it is all about beginning and beginning again
If you would like to take the time off and spend a year with the Lord, get to know more on how to Be a Jesuit Volunteer