My name is Silvana Arevalo, and I am a Mercy Volunteer in Baltimore, MD, working…
I am happy to say that my community members and I are settled into our new home in Baltimore, Maryland! Our “house” is an old rectory attached to a church, but to us it is like a mansion! It has great communal space in the living room, kitchen, and dining room and since it is an old rectory each of us has our own bedroom with a bathroom! We really do love our home, and we love our neighborhood. We live on a busy street within walking distance of many restaurants, grocery and convenience stores, the library, and other things. My community members and I have taken a liking to Lake Montebello, a water reservoir just a few miles away from where we live. The lake has a mile and half path around it where Bella, my community member, and I have been going for runs. It is really convenient!
Before settling in Baltimore, we had Orientation Retreat in Chicago with our entire Mercy Volunteer Corps family. During orientation, we had many workshops on the history behind MVC, what spirituality is and how to host a spirituality night, community building and living in community, and simple living. Most of my anxieties about doing a year of service melted away during orientation. Being surrounded by so many amazing adults with huge hearts and dreams really inspired me and encouraged me to give it my all this next year!
Many people have asked me why I am doing this. A new nursing graduate is VOLUNTEERING for a year, why? What about student loans? What about your boyfriend and your family? To answer your questions, I want to share with you something that came to me during a prayer last week.
I could feel anxieties deep within me, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on why I felt so nervous. It’s not like I was doing this alone; I would be fine! Still, I offered up a prayer to God. “God, I know you sent me for a reason. I’m not sure why I feel so nervous when I know that this is part of your plan, but please ease my anxieties, even the ones that I do not know about.” After I said this, I opened my Bible from Confirmation (a Catholic youth Bible with inserts about different topics throughout it), and I came to a page on money. HUH! Of course that would be causing a lot of my stress! Who wouldn’t be nervous about living on $210 a month? What stuck out to me was a passage on stewardship.
“Stewardship is a concept from the Bible that calls on all Christians to give of themselves to each other and to God…To become a good steward, you must look for opportunities to give of yourself in the same spirit as God has given to you. When you do that, then giving your money, volunteering your time or sharing your talent in service to others simply becomes the visible signs of what is in your heart. The Bible teaches that when you give freely to God, He will give back to you in abundance. That’s proof that God wants you to be a success in life, no matter what you choose to do. That’s assurance that , if you are a good steward and follow His will, He will see to it that you will be a success in His plan for you” (Fireside Catholic Youth Bible, 2004).
I can’t articulate exactly why I am doing this, but I think the above passage explains it pretty well. God has called me to do this. He has placed this passion to serve in my heart, and I have to follow that. So yes, it is stressful and hard to think about student loans and being away from my family in an area that is larger than what I am used to, but God is providing everything that I need. He has placed me in a wonderful community with 3 other encouraging women who will become my family this year. He has given me a great service site at a large hospital where I can practice my nursing skills. He is still providing me with funds while taking trivial things away from me so that I can focus on living simply and solidarity. I would say that I have everything I need right now, and while I know that there are beautiful and hard times to come, I am excited to see where God takes me on this journey He has blessed me with. 🙂
Kalene Weber: Baltimore, Maryland