I muttered a prayer as I sat in my car in the parking lot of one of Nashville’s sketchier apartment complexes. I was about to enter the home of a refugee family from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and I didn’t like that I was nervous. This was my first time to visit a refugee family alone, and on that day, following Christ’s call to care for “the least of these” was outside my comfort zone. I went inside to meet my interpreter, the mom of the family (who was only one year older than me), and her precious toddler. I sat on her couch and talked to her about the Emergency Room, what she should do should one of her children drink cleaning product, nutrition, and mental health, among other topics. When I asked if she had any questions for me, she shared the struggle of not being able to communicate with her case worker and the frustrations that went along with that. I have this conversation with refugees a lot. There isn’t much I can do except show them I care about their problems and offer the limited advice I have.
Through my job at Siloam Family Health Center, I get a unique perspective on current events. I interact with diverse cultures on a weekly basis, teaching refugees a health education curriculum and helping volunteers do the same. My work has been a major learning experience for me; I have confirmed I want to work in healthcare and also confirmed if I work at a desk for the rest of my life I will go insane. Siloam serves the marginalized communities of Nashville, the uninsured and refugees, and I have been given the opportunity to see these people cared for with dignity, which has given my heart the desire to do the same as a nurse.
That’s something that has added an interesting flavor to my Fellows experience. I want to be a nurse, and I came into this program knowing that. I actually turned down a spot in a nursing program to participate in the Fellows. “Why?” you ask, “If you know what you want to be when you grow up why spend time in a program that helps young college grads figure out what they want to be when they grow up?”
This is the part where I tell you that God knows what we need more than we do, and it is so awesome.
I was recently talking with Theresa and she asked me, “How has this program been for you since you already know what you want to do afterward?” The simplest answer is that it has been worthwhile. I have matured in my faith and my worldview, and I am learning what it looks like to engage scripture and walk with God as an adult. I am learning about building community outside of college and how to fall in love with a new church, and I have gained unexpected skills through my job that will help me as a nurse. Before the Fellows, I would have been prepared for nursing school, and I probably would have been a good nurse once I graduated. But the lessons and self-awareness I have gained as a result of this program have been invaluable. I am blessed to work for people who encourage prayer before, during, and after all endeavors. I am surrounded by people who are challenging and improving my faith simply through being my friend. I am learning how to interact with different cultures with respect and humility. I am learning if you do something that makes you nervous enough, it doesn’t make you nervous anymore! *adds “No longer afraid to call strangers” to the achievements on my LinkedIn profile*
Last semester when sharing my story with the Fellows, I told them where I am from. Not the specific places I have lived, but the people and experiences that have made me into the person they now know. When this chapter of my life ends and I move on to tell others where I am from, I will be able to say “I am from Nashville; from 11 people who showed me God’s love and helped me understand my place in His story, and I am from a season where I deepened my understanding of God’s calling on my life.”
And that’s what we’re here for, isn’t it?