Consecrated to glorifying the Heart of Jesus, we answer His call to discover and reveal His love letting ourselves be transformed by His spirit so as to live united and confirmed to him, and through our love and service to radiate the very love of his Heart. (Constitutions, para 4)
The Society is like a river flowing through several farms. Each farmer draws the water she or he needs at any given time and the flow continues. This is how the discovery of God’s love has been for me at RAMP (Refugee and Migrant Project), where I have volunteered two or three days a week since I arrived in December 2012.
On the first day, I was very anxious. Although Mary had told me what to do, I felt blank but deep within I had a desire to reach out and meet people. My first days were dominated by listening, wondering about the poor living conditions people have, observing, giving a smile and silence. It was a shock for me meeting all the people who come to Ramp to get dry food and vegetables, or to be helped to meet their solicitors, to get clothes, or are searching for someone who can show them love which they have missed for days, months, years.
Among those who help in preparing food parcels are volunteers. Some of them are still waiting for their status. Others have their status but want to give back what they received when they were asylum seekers. It is amazing how the volunteers have helped me to understand more how I can share.
I have experienced God’s love revealed in so many ways. The food we give is not enough for a week, but they come every week sometimes smiling, other times worried or even just quiet. I normally greet them, smile and accept them. Sometimes the response can be a smile or a hug, but other times, some can be unhappy or they say, “I am not well at all.” I ask myself, “where is God in all these, how am I sharing love with them?” The most encouraging thing is that when they stay at Ramp for a while, meeting Mary at the food store, getting their vegetables or clothes, listening to one another, or joining the group of volunteers chatting with others, they are engaged in a conversation, too, and with time they are happier. They know each other and support each other. It is very touching when one sees clothes that can fit someone they know in the group and keeps it for her. Some have formed a group to collect food for each other. They have been empowered and are very hopeful. It is very beautiful to work with this group made up of people who come from different nationalities, and they have formed a strong group with mixed cultures. They ask questions, clarifications and also some ask me to share my story.
There are other means that the communion at Ramp is strengthened. We normally have parties like Christmas, Eid, Diwali and birthdays for staff and volunteers. On such occasions it’s hard to believe these are the people who have no status or no benefits. They dress up, prepare their children and they are present for the party. God’s love is shared in many ways. Ramp has many friends in need and indeed. It has been a door for many people and different groups who pray for us, donate food, clothes, health services and talks, and donate money to buy food or for funding picnics. It is a witness of how we humans stretch out to the other, search for love until we are all one by each fulfilling her or his part.
Being there to welcome those who are in need, asking for food, hope, love, encouragement and listening to them, I have discovered God’s love in His Kingdom within these people. I am challenged by their hope even when they try to go forward and stumble. Their certainty in any outcome is incredible. There is a big celebration for everyone when one of them gets her papers. From their nothingness they have love to offer and can rejoice with thanksgiving.
I am so grateful to have such an opportunity to work at Ramp. My prayer life has been nourished and I am grateful to God’s grace within me and within us, which has strengthened my relationship. Our community has been very supportive, always ready to listen to what is happening to the people in Ramp and even give a ride when we need or join in the celebrations. In fact, I’ve made the best friends of my life here.
On Tuesdays, I am always tired and exhausted when I am leaving Ramp. But, on my way home or when I share with my community, I feel so refreshed and nourished by the simple gestures of love that are shared at Ramp. I have felt I work in an atmosphere where there is understanding, freedom, acceptance, hope, perseverance and each person is handled as an individual and all are encouraged to strengthen the communion with others. It is a mission worked on every day by all members. I feel I have been strengthened and have discovered God’s immense love in little ways.