The Story of Esperanza

September 5, 2014

Hope. It is one of the strongest emotions I have ever experienced next to love. Hope does something in us that makes something about the world around us change. Each time I encounter hope, she takes a different form. What a pleasant surprise it is to welcome her many ways on any given day. I like to be hopeful. Hope is a wonderful feeling. Even false hope. I would rather have hope that is false and be ok in those moments than always expect the worst and be on edge. Maybe because I had never experienced the worst and the disappointment never too terrible. Still, Why make yourself suffer for a long period of time when you can be at peace. Hope does that for me. Even when a storm is coming. Even when I may know a storm may be coming.

Hope can surprise you though, and in only a small moment, it can vanish as if it had never even been there. Yesterday, I struggled with hope. I prayed I could find hope. I prayed everything would be ok. That I could, at the very least, make some kind of positive impact. Even after the work we put in, the time we spend figuring things out and being present in the moment, it might not matter. It is those moments I have a hard time facing. That I am insignificant. That I am limited.

I long to make a difference. Even if I can’t make a difference in action, I hope I can make a difference in presence. When I am sick, my mom brings me juice or soup while I lay in bed all day. She sits beside me and keeps me company. She cannot cure me, but she tries anyway just to make things a little better. She is present with me. And it always makes all the difference. Sometimes Roxy will come into my room and jump up on my bed to lay beside me. She certainly has no power in curing me, nor can she bring me any soup or juice, but her simple presence and sweet kisses make all the difference. When there is nothing I can do to change a situation, I hope that I will at the very least be able to bring that kind of peace and comfort of companionship. That through my presence I can do something to make things a little better. I didn’t know there could be a moment where it wouldn’t matter. Where no matter my efforts, life would take it’s course.

Hope has taught me that there is much we may not understand. Much lying beneath the surface I cannot see. But that doesn’t mean I can’t try anyway. Just because life will go her own way doesn’t mean I should never try. Even when I feel insignificant and limited, I can not take away the fact that I have been changed. “Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. Courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” I have always loved and lived by this prayer. Sometimes I do have to accept that I cannot make a change, but I can always change myself. I know now it is in the things I cannot change that God finds a way to humble and change me.

And even after my experience of feeling all hope is lost, I know it isn’t, and I still hope. Because I remember that it is in the times I feel most hopeless that it is those times I must call to God for assistance. That I must rely on Him and trust that He will find a way to work things out when I cannot. Maybe by working through someone else and maybe in some other way. But it is ok to feel limited. I am not made to be perfect. I am simply made to love and be loved in return. Hope has taught me to stay grounded in humility to do just that. And I hope she always will.

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Home In Ecuador

It’s the beginning of our fourth week in Ecuador! It’s a strange feeling, as though I can’t believe it’s already been 4 weeks, but at the same time, I feel I have been here for longer than a month. Each day is a new adventure, every moment beautiful. Within the first few days of my orientation here, I already felt part of the Mount Sinai community as my new family, myself and the former volunteers celebrated a neighbors 18th birthday with a surprise party! It was some of the most fun I have had at a birthday celebration. What a wonderful way for my new family and I to jump into the community here and really feel part of it!
Life in Ecuador is very different from my life in NY. Though I miss a lot of home, I am fully taken and made whole by the life I live here. I live with 7 beautiful people who have become my brothers and sisters. Even more, my friends. We share a lot of laughs and it has been a wonderful blessing sharing the road of this beautiful journey with such wonderful children of God. I’m excited to spend my days with them. We are here for one another. I have never quite experienced intentional community living as I am now and the reality of it is really something special. When I think of my family, I hear the song “We Are One Body.” I see us as one body in Christ. We do not stand alone and we came that Christ might have life. Christ is most certainly alive in all of us. It is a truly wonderful experience watching Him work through my family, bringing us closer to Him, to one another and to our neighbors in Mount Sinai.

God’s light also shines brightly through our neighbors. I have received some of the most kindness, hospitality, and patience from my neighbors in 3 weeks than I possibly ever have outside of my own home. They remind me of my parents in a lot of ways. Beautifully caring, generous, kind, and always want to feed you. They welcome my new family and I with open arms warmly and lovingly. They tell me not to worry about Spanish. That I will learn “poco a poco” (little by little) as they like to say and can practice with them anytime. I am definitely learning, slowly but surely and am practicing self patience as I understand I will not become fluent or even conversational in just a few weeks. I’m staying positive and practicing often! I’ll get there!

Our second week of orientation in Ecuador was discernment time. We had to decide where we would work and was drawn to the women’s shelter, Casa de Acogida, a new placement for volunteers this year, immediately. After our tour of the shelter, I had a really good feeling that stuck with me after visiting all other placements. All our possible placements were wonderful programs that I would be honored to be part of, but Casa de Acogita was where I felt most called. Now I know why.

I have been working there for 3 weeks now and each day has been nothing short of beautiful. I have met many wonderful women who, like my neighbors, show me patience, openness, and kindness. Many of the women have come to the shelter for a a place of peace and safety. I know I cannot take away any pain of their past, but I hope to be a small light in their days, working towards a brighter future. Getting to know the women is a true joy. Seeing their smiles, hearing their laughs, getting excited about singing or dancing. My community mate Scott also works there with me and does a good amount of translating for me which I greatly appreciate. Together we have been deciding what our schedule at the shelter will look like. So far, we have been singing and playing instruments with some of the women, helping out in the kitchen where lunch is made each day, helping out in the bakery which caters to a nearby prison, and playing with the children who love their newly discovered game of Uno. Scott and I are planning to start a garden soon since he enjoys gardening and I would love to be involved and learn with the other women. We may also start having dance classes since so many of the women talk about how they love to salsa, and I was thinking maybe I would teach a zumba class once a week! I look forward to being with those women each day and I cannot wait for the days where I can have a real conversation with them (without the dictionary in hand) and understand everything they tell me and in return, be able to share more of myself with them.
After just a few days of living here, and especially after 3 weeks, I have felt so at peace with where I am. This is what I took the leap for. What I jumped out of comfort and into uncertainty for. I am where God wants me to be. My heart is filled with life, love, reality, peace, patience, gratitude, hope, excitement. This is my new home in Ecuador.

July 10, 2014 – The Journey Begins

I can’t believe it’s that time already, that I’ve graduated and that tomorrow I leave for Scranton to begin my year-long journey to volunteer in Ecuador with Rostro de Cristo! I am beyond excited to be a volunteer and cannot wait to settle into my new lifestyle with my fellow volunteers and the people of Ecuador.
I feel truly blessed, as I have so many beautiful people in my life who have been supporting me in many ways. To my parents, I am eternally grateful for you both. Your love for me is unfailing and no matter where life takes me, I thank you for always staying by my side, for better or for worse. God’s greatest gift to me is undoubtedly the two of you. My beautiful pink mom and dad, I will miss you incredibly. Thank you for everything you do for me. Thank you for never giving up on me. Thank you for always having faith in me. Making you proud has always been most important to me. I hope you know that all I do, I do with the love you have instilled in me.

To my amazing brothers! I am proud to have such wonderful brothers and proud to be your sister. You both have challenged me in so many ways, helping me grow into the woman I am today. You have always been by my side, even through disagreements. I couldn’t ask for anything more in a brother. You both hold very special places in my heart and you can bet, most of the pictures I have to hang on my wall in Ecuador are of the two of you.

To my friends and family, I can’t begin to thank you enough for all the small ways you have all been here for me these past few months. You listened to my heart and reminded me of its message at times when I began to doubt. Your support, encouragement, love, patient ear, and understanding heart mean all the world to me. Thank you for doing everything you could to be as much a part of this journey with me as you could. You never let me walk alone. I am so lucky to have such wonderful company. My life is filled with so much greatness. Most of that is because of all of you.

To all the professors and faculty at Cabrini who have gone above and beyond for me. You have helped me come to appreciate all I have done and realize all I can continue to do. You had faith in me when I had little and helped me find the confidence to dare to do ALL things extra ordinary if I could. Your influences in my life have been life changing and I will forever thank you all for what you did for me, both inside the classroom and out. You didn’t just push me to be a better student, but to be a better, more intelligent and well-rounded human being in life. What you have given me can never be taken away. Thank you thank you thank you. I would have been lost without all of you.

Thanks to everyone’s support, I have reached my goal in reaching $2700 for the trip! I am so grateful for each of you who donated and helped me raise the money I needed for the trip!

My email address is anie.jamgochian@gmail.com

If you would like to send letters, the information below will tell you what you need to know!

Ecuador (July 24, 2014 – July 24, 2015; it takes between 1-3 weeks for letters and a bit longer for soft padded envelopes (which cannot weigh more than 1 lb., no UPS/DHL/FeDex, no boxes)

Anie Jamgochian o Darcy Phillips
Rostro de Cristo
Casilla 09-01-1024
Guayaquil, Ecuador

Though I will be away from home for a while, I am with you all in spirit, as you are all with me in spirit

God Bless,
Anie