When I was packing for college, my dad walked into my room, and handed me a frame with a blue sheet of paper inside. On the blue background were the words “BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD”. Psalms 46 depicts God as a God of strength and refuge and, “a very present help in trouble.” To be still is to take a moment, see the beauty and power that is our Lord and put our trust in him realizing that we can do all things through him.
While in Ecuador, it always seemed that my worst days were met with the most adorable things, such as newborn kittens, puppies, and babies. Yet, one particular moment eclipsed the others. My first week at Refuerzo, an after-school program for kids in Mt. Sinai, was rough. Apart from my struggles to speak the language, many of the kids were still dealing with the departure of the previous volunteers whom they loved. The day on which I reflect was especially tough. The kids didn’t listen to me and as recess began, I was overwhelmed, questioning why I ever decided to come to Ecuador. As I got ready to go outside, a little girl walked up to me, lifted up her arms and asked me to hold her. Taking a step back from my frustration, I picked her up and as I did so, the stress and insecurities that I was feeling melted away. Not wanting to let go of me, I ended up holding her throughout recess.
For me, God used the beauty of the kids and the animals to slow me down – to be still – and place me in the presence of one of his great creations. Thich Nhat Hanh wrote, “The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth.” Ecuador offered a time for me to be still in the presence of God as I walked on the dirt roads of Sinai. In this stillness, I was able to focus on my faith. Our program included weekly community spirituality nights, which varied from traditional prayer, to meditation, to sitting in nature seeking God. I learned in these moments that God can be experienced in a variety of ways and my relationship with God grew stronger as a result. I left Ecuador with more questions than answers about my next steps after Rostro de Cristo, but as clear as day I heard God’s voice calling me to return back to Atlanta and serve there.
God humbled me when I came back to the United States. I didn’t realize that securing a job would be such a challenge. Upon arriving, I expected to go right into the workforce as an engineer, but God was nudging me still in new directions. The first few months were hard. I stayed at home loathing the fact that I was back living with my parents. My prayer life was nonexistent. However, in the stillness of my life, I leaned on God and put my trust in him once again. The lessons I learned about my faith and my relationship with God in Ecuador carried me through this low time.
God guided me to plug in to community service projects around Atlanta and led me to be involved in a Hispanic congregation. I also took a job as a waiter, and surprisingly this position led to my new job at Panasonic.
Amidst the plethora of things that can keep us occupied in the United States, it is imperative that we find time to be still, to give ourselves a moment to be with God. I promise you, God can show us so much in those moments.