Santa Clara University

Santa Clara Magazine

Laura K. Brown '08

undefinedMy experience in JVC South has been a journey marked by struggles and joys. There is a popular country song that is constantly on the radio here in Texas and has become a pseudo theme song for my community. The lyrics describe the blessing a precious child brings to our lives. Although this song is rather corny, like most of my beloved country songs, this lyric is affirmed for me at my placement constantly. I am blessed to play a small part in the lives of beautiful, unique children. I see some take their first steps, some babble for the first time, and some move on to a good family and new home. I cherish these moments; I love the children we serve and their presence in my life.

Unfortunately, my placement is also filled with some children whose pasts are unimaginable and horrific. I value the importance and weight of each person's story, but there are some stories of the children which I do not want to hear or read. I choose to set aside their past life and attempt to bring some glimmer of compassion and acceptance to the children now, while they are in our care. This, of course, is easier spoken than practiced. There have been moments when I have become involved in their stories and thus become entirely vulnerable to emotions of anger, guilt, and sadness. My greatest lows are times when my heart is broken by the population I serve. I do not, however, feel fully comfortable using the term low to describe these moments. I believe that if my heart did not break from time to time, then this placement would no longer be a good fit because I may have become hardened to the stories and may have lost sight of the humanity of this work.

Patience is the gift I hope to take away from this year of service. I have been challenged to grow in both patience with others and patience with myself. Working with children with special needs requires a level of understanding that each child develops on their own schedule, not one set by researchers or medical professionals or school curricula. Working within a nonprofit organization requires the knowledge that flexibility is the first key to progress. Living in an intentional community requires a complete commitment to multiple peers throughout the funny conversations and fights, the energetic days and moments of fatigue, the joys and heartaches. Now to the area of patience with myself. I pray that I continue to be challenged by the four values of JVC; I hope to grow in patience through my mistakes, my lack of understanding, my frustrations, my confusion, and my uncertainty about God's plan for me.

My year of service is only halfway begun. More joys and challenges lay ahead. I can say with certainty that my discernment and decision to join JVC has been an enriching and rewarding one; it has led me to a journey I feel confident I was called to be on at this moment of my life.