On 11-14 February 2022, the Assumption Team visited the current four volunteers in Newcastle for a weekend of community bonding
On a cold, blistering windy night in Newcastle, we are welcomed by the four Assumption Volunteers with quesadillas fresh off the pan oozing with cheese and a new double chocolate cookie recipe baked within minutes and lingering in our mouths throughout the night – yum! It’s remarkable how just over a month ago the latest volunteer Vanessa (from Brazil) arrived, yet she interacts with her fellow housemates as though they have crossed paths in another life. After almost finishing an entire plate of cookies, we retire for the night and get ready for our weekend of community bonding.
Saturday morning brings more wind but also sunshine as we make our way, guided by Sr Sylvia to Walker Parish Church just around the corner. Our venue for the day is an intimate refectory with large windows merely separating us from the chapel. It is a rather fitting venue as our first session is centred on finding God. Each has their own idea of who God is, a companion, the universe, our whole being. Various images and symbols of God are placed on the floor, and we take some time to reflect on each of them and eventually are asked to take the one(s) that speaks out to us the most – there is a struggle between the volunteers who want the same image! It is wonderful that although they both find God amid a flurry of leaves and the bold towering cross, they both openly share their personal journey with God from their home countries and throughout their volunteering experience.
Before keeping ourselves warm with a hot beverage, we reflected together on the extract from the Corinthians, ‘One body with many parts.’ It is clear to see this passage reflected in the community, for each volunteer, although feels insecure in their communication or their skills, brings their own strength and personality which is necessary for the success of their work in Kids Kabin and their community in the house.
The morning gave us the opportunity to look back at the past months: each individual’s journey since arriving to England and joining the AV community. It comes with challenges and blessings, the highs, and lows of adapting to the new culture, new language (the Geordie!) and one another, sharing in the mission and community life. Life as an Assumption Volunteer does not only involve service in the Kids Kabin projects but invites participants to go deeper in their personal quest to grow and develop, to share and give, to reflect and take time to enjoy life-giving moments with each other and God.
The afternoon session started with an icebreaker that saw a very enthusiastic Tyler running a marathon on the spot! It was a delight witnessing each person figure out their own ‘Love Language’ theorised by Gary Chapman, but even more exciting watching them decide which love language their fellow volunteers embodied – their ability to guess correctly was a testament to the relationships they have formed whilst living, working, and travelling together. By learning to recognize each other’s preferences in how to give and receive love, we moved onto learning how to identify ways to diffuse conflicts. Different reactions to conflict such as ‘giving in’, ‘standing my ground’, ‘mocking someone’ were placed on the floor. The volunteers were then given a scenario and was asked to stand in front of the reaction they felt they would respond with. It was a great way to identify their different personalities and to decide what are the best ways (and absolutely wrong ways i.e. physical violence) to handle conflicts. The evening was concluded with time enjoying supper and competitive card games!
Sunday was dedicated to a community outing – although the rain prevented us from venturing further afield from Newcastle, we winded down with morning mass in the beautiful St. Mary’s Cathedral; went searching for a Sunday roast - which was impossible as the pubs were filled with lively fans for the match between Newcastle and Aston Villa - so settled for Sunday burgers. We ended the day watching the captivating ‘Belfast’ on the large screen.
We pray that the current Assumption Volunteer community will continue to find God in their journey and acknowledge they are all a part in the body of Christ. We remain grateful for their generous service and the inspiration they bring to Kids Kabin and all the people they meet!
Do you know anyone who would be interested and benefit from a Christian gap-year programme? Don’t hesitate to tell them about Assumption Volunteers – we are now recruiting for 2022/23 for a September start and short term during the summer.
On September 22nd and 23rd Assumption Sisters from the communities in England have gathered together in Kensington for a time of exchange, prayer and meetings.
The Religious of the Assumption visited the Relics of St Bernadette at Westminster Cathedral and at St. Mary's University in Twickenham
The JPIC team brings you their latest newsletter with thought provoking reports and reflections.
Theme: Listen to the Voice of Creation