St. John the Compassionate Mission: A Place I Will Always Call my Home
The evening before my trip to Toronto I sat in my room, packing up my clothes, boots, gloves, Orthodox Bible, and journal. And then I began to wonder…. what type of trip was this going to be for me? Would it be one where I was going to meet people who challenged me to grow not only as a person, but also within my faith? Yes. Would it be a trip where I finally was going to let go of all the worries, frustrations, and cares of college life? Yes. Would it be a trip where I could feel the Holy Spirit inside me and move my heart? Yes.
In fact, I can’t think of any better way to sum up the outcome of my trip other than, I have returned to Illinois with a greater understanding of what it truly means to be an Orthodox Christian. A quote that stuck out to me on the trip was, “The poor are our masters” by St. John the Compassionate. The quote carries much truth. In my time at the mission, I learned more from the poor, than I possibly could have ever imagined. They taught me to realize each day we have is a blessing, and no matter how terrible the circumstances of our life may be, if your stomach is filled, if you have clothes on your back, and if you have warm shoes to walk in, there really isn’t anything to complain about.
I have always been appreciative and thankful for the life God has blessed me with, but now even more so. I saw a type of brokenness within individuals that I have never seen before. I could see it in their eyes, the heartache, the pain, the struggle, the sickness, and the emotional or physical abuse they had endured, or still are enduring.
The mission taught me to look at each person, and try and understand his or her brokenness. Within these people’s broken hearts, we can learn how to share our love for Christ with them. While volunteering at St. John the Compassionate mission, my heart was touched by many- from the homeless who walked in the doors on that early Wednesday morning at 6am, to our guide for the week, Deacon Pawel, to our spiritual father on the trip, Fr. Miles, to my fellow peers on the trip, John, Mike, Corey, Peter, and Greg.
When I stepped off the plane in the Chicago O’Hare International Airport reality set in. My time at the mission may have ended, but my spiritual journey has not. I came back with renewed, revived, and rejuvenated spirit within me. I felt an inner sense of peace once again. The time away from school, family, and friends, enabled me to really focus on myself, and my relationship with God. I was able find and experience “quiet time” that seems to escape us daily. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend my spring break. I feel so blessed and privileged to have been given the opportunity to become part of St. John the Compassionate Missions family; they will forever and always have a place in my heart.