I have officially been in Chicago for two months now. I feel as if I can finally call Chicago my home. Over the summer I worked as a staff member at Catholic Heart WorkCamp. At the camp we had praise and worship music each night and one of the musicians, PJ Anderson sang a song, Home by Phillip Phillips that really stuck with me. I feel that the songs really explain my relationship with my new home of Chicago which you can hear in this video.home I have made Chicago my home through many of my experiences as a fully time volunteer in a soup kitchen in Wicker Park, through my adventures, my happy moments, and my sad ones as well.
I have really experienced quite a bit in these past two months. I was really nervous at first to meet my new housemates, see my new room, meet the guests at the shelter, and to start a new life without education tied to my life. My housemates have been spectacular, my room looks like a reflection of me on a wall, the guests are really great, and I am reading educational books and novels to maintain educational rigor and interests.
I have had many great days with the guests, specifically the days when we sit and talk with one another about our interests. My favorite days to work are Mondays and Fridays because we serve lunch and showers instead of just serving dinner and taking laundry. We open the doors from noon to three which allows for guest to eat, hang out, sleep on the benches, and take showers. During these times I am able to talk with guests and share about my life. Many of the guests want to know about where I am from and what I like to do. Most of the time I find myself reminiscing about the beauty of the mountainous back drop of the Smoky Mountains and Blue Ridge parkway and other times I get caught up in talking about psychology and music.
My favorite thing about my job/volunteering is my ability to wash the guests laundry. We provide laundry services Monday-Friday except for Wednesday. We take the first 10 bags of laundry and sort them out into loads for the two washers and dryers. We place them into the wash, then the dryer, and then fold them and put them back into bags. As I go through each cycle of washing, drying, and folding I pray for the guests. I truely see the most intimate part of another human being by washing their clothes and realize that this person is living most likely on the streets and needs as many prayers as possible. The intimacy reminds me of the humbling experience when Jesus washed his disciples feet. Feet were very dirty back in Jesus' day and to wash someone else's feet was a gross experience. Washing someone's laundry that has left over fecal matter, pee, sweat, and bed bugs resembles the washing of the feet for that reason, it is typically gross. However, it is my favorite job here at Franciscan Outreach Association because I feel closest to Jesus and to His people. I find this task very meaningful and enlightening when I really reflect on it.
I will continue to share my experiences and times here as I work in the next ten months. I apologize for the delay in writing this but I have been busy living life.