Turmoil in EcuadorEcuador protests https://www.pjsn.org/blog/Turmoil-in-EcuadorTurmoil in EcuadorBy Peter Wigginton


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Turmoil in Ecuadorhttps://www.pjsn.org/blog/Turmoil-in-EcuadorTurmoil in EcuadorBy Peter Wigginton <p style="text-align:left;"><strong></strong>Ecuador has generally been a very peaceful and politically stable nation, compared to its close neighbors, Colombia and Peru. Delicia and I have been serving the past four years with Mennonite Mission Network in Quito, Ecuador's capital, and we have experienced this calm. However, Ecuador has struggled a lot economically. And now these struggles are coming to a catalytic moment as mass transportation sector strikes and a large indigenous march are exciting the nation.   </p><p style="text-align:left;">Ecuador's current president, Lenin Moreno, has tried to distance himself from the previous government and leader, Rafael Correa. Correa had always championed his "Civilian Revolution" and invested a lot in public infrastructure. He also pushed back against U.S.-led policies and other neoliberal ideals.   </p><p style="text-align:left;">Moreno recently worked with the International Monetary Fund to strike a deal for a loan for the government; some of the deal required that the government reduce spending. The deal was hammered out behind closed doors, without the knowledge or approval of the Ecuadorian general assembly or congress. And now some terms of the loan agreement are coming due. </p><p style="text-align:left;">The government announced Oct. 1 its plans to cut subsidies for diesel and gasoline. Those cuts raised costs for taxi operators, bus owners, and food prices. These subsidy cuts have caused an almost 100 percent hike in gas and diesel prices. This huge spike has sparked protests from transportation organizations and unions.  </p><p style="text-align:left;"><strong><em>Mission Network partners </em></strong><strong><em>encourage peace and justice to reign </em></strong> </p><p style="text-align:left;">Those strikes eased after a few days, but now student movements and indigenous organizations—especially CONAIE, a national indigenous organization—are pressing forward in a growing indigenous march now storming into Quito. More information on IMF and subsidies are explained by <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/27/imf-economics-inequality-trump-ecuador" target="_blank"><span lang="EN-US" style="text-decoration:underline;"><em>The Guardian</em>,</span></a> <a href="https://www.brettonwoodsproject.org/2019/10/imf-ecuador-agreement-undermines-workers-rights/" target="_blank"><span lang="EN-US" style="text-decoration:underline;"><em>Bretton Woods Project</em>,</span></a> and <a href="https://www.vox.com/2019/5/17/18624740/fossil-fuel-subsidies-climate-imf" target="_blank"><span lang="EN-US" style="text-decoration:underline;"><em>Vox</em>.</span></a>  <br></p><p style="text-align:left;">Mission Network partners, the Quito Mennonite Church of ICAME, and the indigenous Mennonite churches of ICME, are involved in fixing food for the marchers. Mission Network's local partner, FEINE, is also helping to organize the march. It has officially said that it is against the decree that cut the subsidies for fuel.   </p><p style="text-align:left;">Oct. 8, several FEINE leaders were arrested and detained when they pushed into the national Assembly building with other protesters. Julian Guaman of ICME estimated that more than 50,000 indigenous people are participating in the march to Quito, and more than 20,000 are marching to Guayaquil. Members of ICME churches are also participating in the indigenous march. Guaman shared that ICME has not issued an official statement. But members of their churches are pushing against injustice, citing Matthew 21:12-13, when Jesus pushed out the money lenders from the temple.   </p><p style="text-align:left;">Another member of the ICME churches, youth leader Anita Aguagallo, said that the government has not initiated dialogue, but has fomented hate toward the indigenous movements. She believes the church needs to have a message of love toward all our brothers and sisters. Aguagallo also shared that she was at a protest site Oct. 8 where police used violence to suppress the protesters – many of them women and children. Several protestors, including children, were hurt.  </p><p style="text-align:left;">Members of the Mennonite church in Quito are participating in public demonstrations in favor of justice and peace. ICAME issued a statement that reads in part: "We call for work to overcome structural injustice and go beyond an economic model that has placed the majority of the population on the margins. [New laws must be created] to organize society not around capital, the market and the transnationals, but [around] the common good, for the people who are on foot, and to solve the problems of injustice and unemployment that afflict thousands of Ecuadorians." </p><p style="text-align:left;">The church leaders acknowledged that the United Nations and the leaders of the Catholic Church and universities have been designated to start mediation. But the president has reiterated they will not give in to the decree that cut subsidies. Please pray for Ecuador, the government, the different social and religious leaders, and the different Mennonite congregations in Ecuador. We are called by Christ to love our enemies no matter where they may be from.  </p><p style="text-align:left;">Martin Luther King Jr. gave us guidance on how we can love our enemies and push against injustice: "Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon, which cuts without wounding, and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals."  </p><p style="text-align:left;">But this question remains for the global church: How can we support brothers and sisters in Ecuador and around the world who are combating injustice? We most certainly can be in prayerful communion with them. But is this enough? We can petition our different leaders of government (the IMF is mostly run at the discretion and guidance of the current U.S. administration). Is this enough? We can take to the streets as members of the Ecuadorian church are doing, but who will take notice?  </p><p style="text-align:left;">Maybe we can take heart in a different call from King, found in an excerpt from his essay, "Loving Your Enemies:" "To our most bitter opponents we say, 'We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We shall meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will, and we shall continue to love you. …" </p><p style="text-align:left;">We can and shall pray. We can and shall make our voices heard. We can also march. But we must remember that we will also suffer, and within that suffering, we must love.  </p><p style="text-align:left;"> </p><p style="text-align:left;"><a href="/Impact/locations/Latin%20America/Ecuador">Learn more about Mission Network's ministries in Ecuador.</a> </p><p><br></p>
Three missionary mythshttps://www.pjsn.org/blog/Three-missionary-mythsThree missionary mythsBy Joshua Garber <p><strong style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">Three missionary myths</strong></p><p><strong>Note: </strong>This is the introduction and the first of a three-part series that addresses some of the common myths and misconceptions we experience most regularly as international service workers for Mennonite Mission Network in Barcelona.<br></p><p><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">Some time ago, I talked to my friend Daniel, a monthly donor to our ministry, about challenges we face in maintaining connections with folks in the United States while serving abroad. Our communication becomes increasingly challenging and distorted. And folks who care about us a great deal can end up saying the most hurtful, deflating things.</span><br></p><p>"<em>'You out drinkin' with my gifts?!'</em>" he said in his best "church-person" voice with a laugh. "Wow, it seems you guys have a double standard for having fun!"</p><p>I love Daniel's way of keeping things in perspective. The reality is the work we do<a href="http://worthwhileadventures.org/blog/2016/10/5/rationale-for-european-missions"> in Barcelona</a> (and before<a href="http://worthwhileadventures.org/blog/2014/03/ukraine-and-russia-and-lcc.html"> in Lithuania</a>) does not fit the classical missionary stereotype. We serve in a first-world country riddled by<a href="http://worthwhileadventures.org/mission"> spiritual poverty</a>. Often, the baggage of the institutional church does more to create barriers between people and Jesus rather than facilitate connections.<br></p><p>For example, we're not digging wells, converting villages of poor people and dressing in some relatively exotic fashion. That's not to say those types of missions are unimportant. And in many contexts, this work has been done by amazing, faithful people responding to God's call. But that's not who <em>we</em> are and that's <em>not who we should be</em> in <em>our</em> context.</p><p><strong>For our first two years in Barcelona, our stated objectives have been:</strong></p><ol style="list-style-type:decimal;"><li>Learn the language well.</li><li>Engage in the local culture and figure out how to fit into it.</li><li>Build relationships.</li></ol><p>We are doing foundation work that is as challenging to portray as it is meaningful and important.</p><p><a href="http://worthwhileadventures.org/blog/2017/9/29/resurrecting-the-church">Ministry happens as we carry out our objectives</a>. Most of our supporters know and understand this … but the legacy image of what international missions should look like always seems to linger. The dissonance that image creates with the parts of our experience we're able to communicate, combined with the hallmark American fear of getting duped or flimflammed, often results in some unfortunate encounters and assumptions.</p><p><strong><em>The following is the first of a three-part series that addresses some of the common myths and misconceptions we experience most regularly while serving with </em></strong><a href="http://mennonitemission.net/"><strong><em>Mennonite Mission Network</em></strong></a><strong><em> in Barcelona.</em></strong></p><p><strong>Myth #1: Our European Vacation</strong></p><p>We love to travel and likely would not have found ourselves living outside the United States were this not the case. Maybe that's why this first myth gets under our skin so much:</p><p><strong><em>"You're just getting people to pay for your European vacation."</em></strong></p><p>While we don't hear this first statement from our ministry partners who support us, it <em>is</em> a serious accusation.</p><p>Is Barcelona an amazing city? <em>Totally!</em> Do we enjoy living here? <em>Yup!</em> Is it a huge tourist destination? <em>Annoyingly so!</em></p><p>However, living where people love to visit does not make <em>us</em> tourists. We´ve also lived in another major tourist destination: <a href="http://www.amishcountry.org/">Amish country</a>. Growing up in Goshen, Indiana, I never felt like a tourist even though that's a definite aspect of the area's culture. Phoenix, a place we lovingly called home for about eight years, is also <a href="https://tourism.az.gov/economic-impact/">a major tourist destination</a>. Even a sleepy city like <a href="https://www.klaipedainfo.lt/en/">Klaipeda, Lithuania</a>, draws lots of visitors during its summer months.</p><p>Everywhere we've lived is touristy to someone who hasn't been there.<em> </em>In fact, stereotypical settings for missions such as Africa and South America are also where countless people visit and drop lots of money to go on safaris, visit historical sites and consume culture — living life in a fashion that's completely separate from the locals.</p><p><strong><em>The same is true for Barcelona </em></strong></p><p>Our travel here is limited to what we can access via the subway and bus. Occasionally, we find ourselves outside Barcelona for a ministry-related trip or conference. A few times we've visited some good friends who live a two-hour train ride away. Most days, however, we're grinding away with meetings, office work, language courses, getting groceries, going on family outings.<br></p><p>This myth is most hurtful because to imply we're on a perpetual vacation is to say we don't work — an easy assumption to make as our work doesn't all fit into a 9-to-5 window.  And to say that we've somehow tricked folks into paying for a life of leisure implies we are being disingenuous about our call to serve.</p><p>I would love to travel more as a family. Regional travel in Europe is amazing: for the same cost as traveling from Phoenix to southern California or Indianapolis to Chicago, we could see and do some amazing things. But we travel less now than ever. Usually there's too much work to do at home in Barcelona and, often, it just doesn't feel like it's worth the juggling.</p><p><strong><em>Questions for reflection: </em></strong><br></p><p><em>How important is recreational travel for me/my family? </em></p><p><em>In what ways might where I live and my lifestyle be exotic to someone from another part of the world?</em></p>
Banners of peacehttps://www.pjsn.org/blog/Banners-of-PeaceBanners of peaceBy Joe Sawatzky<p>​When a student recently hung the Russian flag from a dormitory window at LCC International, a Christian liberal arts university in Klaipėda, Lithuania, and a Mennonite Mission Network partner, suspicions exploded in the national media. Was LCC supporting the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine?</p><p>In a recent presentation in Elkhart, Indiana, Dr. Marlene Wall, president of LCC, painted a portrait of a country on edge — of a Lithuania "jittery" from the threat of Russian interference in the still-young democracy of the former Soviet region. Guided by a Christian vision since its inception in 1991, LCC has acted as an incubator of democratic values of freedom and transparency amid a historic context of secrecy and autocratic control.  Campus visitors often comment on its democratic "feel," evident even in its architecture, which lets in natural light.  LCC's feel is matched by its international flavor — 67 percent of its students come from outside of Lithuania. Moreover, though the university is clear in its Christian convictions, only 30 percent of its students come to the school as Christians.  </p><p>This is the setting in which the student hung the Russian flag — and unwittingly launched a dramatic display of reconciliation. While Wall and her administrative team carefully crafted a statement to counter the media's false accusations, said Wall, "the students took care of the problem." Adjoining the flag of Russia, students hung the flags of every nation from which they had gathered as students of LCC. At the center of the display, between the flags of Ukraine and Russia, they adorned a heart shape in red lipstick. Upon hearing Wall's telling of the resolution, NATO representatives in the region marveled at the students' ease in fulfilling the "peacekeeping" mission for which they as international authorities strained.</p><p>The Hebrew prophets told of a time when the sight of the mountain of the Lord's house raised high would draw together a learning community among many peoples and nations. Schooled in the paths of peace, they would make peace (Isaiah 2:1-5, Micah 4:1-5).  Walking in the light of the Lord, they would become "a light to the nations, that [the Lord's] salvation may reach to the end of the earth" (Isaiah 2:5; 49:6). Drawn by the light of the Lord upon them, even rulers and authorities would acknowledge "the brightness of [their] dawn" (Isaiah 60:1-3).</p><p>In line with those prophets, Jesus came "proclaiming peace" (see Matthew 5:17, Ephesians 2:17). "He went up the mountain." "His disciples came to him" and "he taught them" (Matthew 5:1-2). He made them to be a light shining in plain sight, "so that others may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:14-16). As a community of the Lord's peace from "all nations," may the church — like those students from LCC International — pursue peace, "so that the world may believe" (Matthew 28:19, Psalm 34:14, John 17:21).   <br></p>
Ending a year, starting a journeyhttps://www.pjsn.org/blog/Ending-a-year,-starting-a-journey-Ending a year, starting a journeyBy Michelle Moyer-Litwiller <p><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">As we have gone through these last 10 months, we have all had highs and lows. This year has been life-giving, but also challenging. We have learned about ourselves and each other. We have become rooted in both our Service Adventure community and the larger community in which we live.  </span><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">This year has allowed us to learn more about what Service Adventure is, create deep, meaningful relationships, and experience our individual and group transitions together.</span><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">  </span><br></p><p>When Rudy and I began as unit leaders here in Albuquerque, New Mexico, last fall, we really had no idea what to expect for what our year would look like. What we have come to realize throughout this year is that, as in life, you cannot have expectations. Each day, week and month is going to be different from the last, and flexibility is the key to getting through. </p><p>The basic structure of our weeks is the same: The participants go to their work placements, Rudy and I work one or two days at the hospital, Monday we have learning components, Wednesday is worship night, and Thursday is Taco Thursday at church. However, the end results are always different. We go on trips, people get sick, difficult things happen at work, and when the dust settles, the only constant has been this group of participants and leaders, moving through it all together. Being a Service Adventure leader requires you to take many different roles and complete many different tasks. Just like in life, you cannot forecast what exactly you will be doing on a day-to-day basis. </p><p>Rudy and I have greatly enjoyed spending our year with these four wonderful individuals. This year has flown by, but at the same time, I look back to August and Florian's hair was only as long as mine when the unit began! </p><p>We have appreciated the time to create relationships with the participants both individually and as a group.  Once a month, one or both of us meet with each participant individually. We go on a walk, a bike ride, get coffee, or just chat in the casita. These one-to-one sessions have been some of the most sacred times for us this year. The intentional, dedicated time spent to learn more about each other is a gift in our busy world. It gives us a moment to decompress and connect on more than a superficial level. Coming into this program, this was probably one of the most intimidating parts for me specifically. </p><p>However, for the most part, we leave each one-to-one feeling more connected and aware of what is happening in each other's lives. We will be the first to say we don't always know what we are doing or how best to handle situations. Yet, we are learning how to be better at this from each person in the unit. Sometimes it may take patience and forgiveness from each other, but that is all part of life and living in community with five other people. One-to-ones have been very valuable in learning how we can help our community thrive. It has been a time to listen and reflect with one another. </p><p>We have had the opportunity to travel a lot this year, which has been some of the best time for us to cultivate relationships as a whole group. Though there is a lot of time spent in the car individually watching movies and sleeping, by the end of the trip, we often move to a time of being together and just enjoying each other's company as we suffer through the last few miles of what seem like never-ending car trips. </p><p>Also, the intentional group time each week at meals, learning components, and worship nights allow us to slow down and be together. At the beginning of the year, our group collectively decided to have house meals every night of the week. This was not a requirement, but a request to have a time of connection every night to debrief our wonderful, terrible and average days. These intentional experiences allow the group to dig deeper into what it means to live in community.</p><p>This year has been a transition for all of us. We have all come to a foreign place separately to live together. Each of us have moved away from our families and are experiencing this new place with one another. Transition brings exciting change and new experiences, but it also brings difficulties and stress. This year, our first year of Service Adventure leadership, brings a uniqueness we will not have with future units. Everything we do is a first for the whole group. This complete newness has brought its own challenges, but it has also brought us closer to one another. As a group we have transitioned from strangers, to a unit, and finally to a supportive community for each other. As this year comes to a close, we have each begun preparing for our own separate journeys. For Rudy and me, we are preparing for our second year as leaders. We have been interviewing participants for next year and exploring possible placements. For the participants, they are beginning to take the next steps in their own paths. Even though we will be parting ways, we will always be a part of each other's lives; we have created connections and relationships that we hope will be lifelong.  </p><p>We have learned that having expectations for Service Adventure is inadequate, and that our role, more than anything, is to be flexible and supportive through all the transitions that we face. This year and this group have been a blessing for us, and we look forward to seeing how different it will be to experience another year of Service Adventure with a new group of people. We are sad to see the end of this year, but excited to see everyone take the next step in their own journeys.<br></p>
Power of my powerhttps://www.pjsn.org/blog/Power-of-my-powerPower of my powerby Joe Sawatzky<p>Mennonite Mission Network held its fourth annual Sent gathering April 26-28 in Denver, Colorado. After two days of fellowship, testimony and teaching, the conference closed with worship at Beloved Community Mennonite Church, our host congregation. Located in Englewood, our service marked the 20th anniversary of the mass shootings at Columbine High School, in the adjacent community of Littleton. Two church members—parents of a child who lost a friend in the tragedy—recounted, through tears, the terror of that day. They testified to the presence of evil in our world.   <br></p><p>The father’s account went something like this: <br></p><blockquote style="margin:0px 0px 0px 40px;border:medium none;padding:0px;"><p>Since the Enlightenment, we have been taught to discount the reality of spiritual phenomena. After Columbine, and every mass shooting, we seek to isolate factors that might explain such random killing—but to no satisfactory conclusion. In the end, we are left to acknowledge the presence of evil in our world. </p></blockquote><p>Then came the kicker: <br></p><blockquote style="margin:0px 0px 0px 40px;border:medium none;padding:0px;"><p>If we say that God is beyond ourselves to do through us the good, then evil is a power beyond ourselves to do through us the bad. </p></blockquote><span style="background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-size:1.4rem;font-style:inherit;"><div><span style="background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-size:1.4rem;font-style:inherit;"><br></span></div>The father’s words rang true to me. Having lived in South Africa, among people who acknowledged the influence of personal spirits on human behavior, references to invisible forces readily catch my attention. I understand why we might hesitate to ascribe human actions to evil. I understand that some persons speak of evil to evade responsibility for what they did or left undone. In terms of God, I understand the danger of attributing to the Holy Spirit that which others may experience as our own misuse of power. Yet none of these reflect the father’s meaning.   </span><br><p>In this case, the acknowledgment of evil was the humanization of Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris —flesh-and-blood children belonging to flesh-and-blood parents—who were overcome by evil. In this case, the recognition of evil serves the cause of love. Through it, the parents of victims extend grace to parents as victims. Indeed, in her testimony, the mother expressed sympathy for Susan Klebold, who has spoken publicly of the torment both of losing her own son and facing the fact of his participation in such monstrous violence.   <br></p><p>Finally, as implied in the father’s testimony, the presence of evil points to the reality of God. This presence causes us to ask a disturbing question: Do we truly believe that God is Power beyond our power? Paul told the Romans, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). If we’re to do that, we’ll need to ask and make room for the Spirit of God in our lives, the life of Christ who loved us and gave himself for us (Galatians 2:20). <br></p>
Glimpsing God through everyday lifehttps://www.pjsn.org/blog/Glimpsing-God-through-everyday-lifeGlimpsing God through everyday lifeBy Kaytlen Keough  <p><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">When I came into Service </span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">A</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">dventure, I had a very open mind to what I would learn. </span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">I was not expecting to love more deeply or appreciate the little things in life more.</span><span data-ccp-props="{"201341983":0,"335559740":276}"> </span></p><div><p><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">At my work placement,</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto"> I work with adults who have intellectual and developmental disabilities. The day program I am with teaches them independent living skills, interpersonal skills</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">,</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto"> and </span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">work-related</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto"> skills. The adults I </span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">spend time</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto"> with on a day</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">-</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">to</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">-</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">day basis are learning interpersonal skills. I may have a bias</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">ed</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto"> opinion</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">,</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto"> but I absolutely adore them. I hang</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto"> </span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">out with some amazing adults, </span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">and </span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">they all have taught me different things. </span><span data-ccp-props="{"201341983":0,"335559740":276}"> </span></p></div><div><p><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">The first one, he’s been a tough cookie. When I first started my work placement</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">,</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto"> I was told that nobody want</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">ed</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto"> to </span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">work with him. I have been pushed by him, he’s stepped on me</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">,</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto"> and</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto"> even </span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">worse, he’s taken my food</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">—right </span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">in front of my eyes</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">!</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto"> Keep in mind that this is my first experience in this field, </span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">and </span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">I didn’t know what</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto"> to do about it. I didn’t take this experience completely personal</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto"> </span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">(I was more upset about my food being taken from me). Being around him has taught me to ALWAYS keep my food close to me, in terms of eating fast, or before he arrives to </span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">the </span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">day program. He did reject me when we did start hanging out</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">;</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto"> I was not his favorite provider. There was one </span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">time</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto"> we both were having bad days</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto"> …</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto"> no reason really, just a normal off day. He kept getting upset and so did I. We were in the mall, and we sat down because I was physically and mentally tired and I just needed a minute to recuperate. My friend sat on me and put his head on my shoulder. He curled up into a ball and just closed his eyes. I was completely shocked, and in awe. He just needed a minute</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">,</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto"> too, and we sat there, in the mall, with the weird looks people gave. I was content, he was content</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">,</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto"> and it was a magical moment of bonding for us. I’ve kept this experience close to me because it reminded me that sometimes all we need is a comfort</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">ing</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto"> hug or just a minute. </span><span data-ccp-props="{"201341983":0,"335559740":276}"> </span></p></div><div><p><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">The second one has also been a tough cookie. </span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">I was </span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">also </span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">warned about him. </span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">I was c</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">onfused as to why adults were telling me to be careful around him</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">.</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto"> It intrigued me more. I wanted to know why everyone was tense around him, why people didn’t want me hanging out with him. </span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">I would learn that </span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">m</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">y friend </span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">could be violent at times. H</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">e is non-verbal, which makes communication hard</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">. He is violent toward</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto"> himself, and when he’s upset</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">,</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto"> he has no way to communicate why he’s upset. Since he’s only harming himself, we cannot do anything but let him hurt himself. It doesn’t sound so bad</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">,</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto"> right? I cannot tell you how hard it is to watch this happen</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">;</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto"> my heart churns down into liquid, I feel it in my stomach. My whole body starts to </span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">ache</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto"> and my brain hurts. I can’t help but care for my friends, and when I cannot help them</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">,</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto"> it breaks me. Once, we were out in the community and he started hurting himself. Normally</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">,</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto"> I could talk him down, but this time I couldn’t. I became so angry</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">—</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">not with him</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">,</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto"> but everyone else because of how they looked at him. I couldn’t understand why people had to have such sour look</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">s on</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto"> their faces. I won’t lie</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">;</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto"> I was </span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">definitely crying</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">. It made me feel a different way for my friend</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">.</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto"> I knew why he was upset, </span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">but </span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">nobody else did. He has taught me a couple things</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">, o</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">ne being that you cannot fix people</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">;</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto"> you can only help them. The second </span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">thing he taught me was that the world will never understand one person completely. God places people in our lives that will understand us the most </span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">they can, and to help us the most they can. </span><span data-ccp-props="{"201341983":0,"335559740":276}"> </span></p></div><div><p><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">I would say that these two have had a huge impact on me, mentally, physically and spiritually. I thank God every</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto"> </span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">day </span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">that </span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">I am with my friends</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">;</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto"> they bring me so much joy. What surprises me the most is how much I love my job placement. How much I love all my friends who I work with and who I hang out with. I found something that keeps me going, something that keeps my mind engaged. I am constantly learning something new every</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto"> </span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">day, and when I’m learning new things from my work placement</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">,</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto"> I can apply it to my life, </span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">and</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto"> </span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">I can also apply it to others. It’s helped me understand people better</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">,</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto"> why they are the way they are. My work placement has helped me see that it’s really the little things in life that give me joy. For example</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">,</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto"> when I find a snack in my purse that I never knew about, or when I share that food with a friend, how happy it makes them. The little things like remembering a friend</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">’</span><span lang="EN" data-contrast="auto">s big day, or them remembering your big day; seeing God in my everyday life.</span></p></div>