I Am Exactly Where I Need To Be.

This summer I signed up and prepared to go to Detroit to serve in the amazing Covenant House Michigan as a live in volunteer.

Through a few weeks of phone calls and broken connections, I realized I was the only volunteer who had signed up to live in this intentional community house. So, I had to let Detroit go, hope for next summer, and plant myself back home.

I am now doing the same job search I have done since I was sixteen. I am running on the same streets I grew up running down. I am homesick for Omaha, and Detroit, and Cortina. I don’t really know what I’m homesick for. I am bored and frustrated.

I hung a picture on my wall that reads “You are exactly where you need to be.” (Yes, sometimes when I am feeling down I print out inspirational Pinterest quotes). It has hung there for three weeks now, but I was bored and frustrated so I never really believed it. I believed I needed to be in Detroit, or Omaha, or anywhere but here.
That’s beginning to change now. I made a pledge at the beginning of my year in Cortina to “Vocalize Gratitude”. When I started to do that, I started to think about my summer differently.

I am becoming involved with a campaign that I care deeply about. (If you live or are registered to vote in Missouri, check out Missourians for Equality or send me an email at SarahPeraud@creighton.edu).

I get to see my little brother become a man and drive him to tour colleges. I got to watch him vault thirteen feet and be here as he trains for the junior Olympics. I get to love him as something other than a snot-nosed little brother, but as a friend.

I get to train for our 5th triathlon with the most amazing woman, my mom.

I got to see my favorite band with my best friend.

I’m rediscovering the reasons I get homesick for St. Louis.

I found Covenant House St. Louis and get to spend some of my days there.

I fell in love with living in community this year and was so discouraged that I didn’t get to find a new one this summer.

But I’m realizing, every community is an intentional community if I work and love with intention. I think being a part of an intentional community is a call for inclusion. Entering into intentional community does not and should not isolate me from my engagements in the rest of the world. Community creates people motivated by peace, intention, love for others and reminds me that when I take those values into the wider political and social arena, I am not alone.

Detroit isn’t the only place where I can love. Cortina is not the only place where I can love. If I am not a loving person where I am then I cannot be a loving person anywhere.

Mother Theresa once said that we all “belong to each other.” We cannot do harm to one without harming the very integrity of ourselves and our entire existence. Fortunately, it works the other way as well. We are all so intimately connected. It is impossible to affect just one person. We are constantly transforming. I have to be constantly thinking of that transformation and do my best to transform with love, rather than greed or selfishness or boredom. There is no savior or victim. Rather, there is a need to for us all to be transformed. The way I want to do that is through radical, unabashed, extravagant love.

I can do that in Detroit. I can do that here.

So yes, there are days when I lay in bed, watching Netflix and wallowing about how I don’t get to serve, how I don’t get to be in community, and how I am soooo bored. But, then, I have to shake myself up a little bit. I smile, think about all the things I can possibly do tomorrow and think of all the music and experiences and beautiful lives I still get to be a part of this summer. And I am starting to maybe truly believe—this is exactly where I need to be.

–Sarah Peraud, Cortinian 2012-2013,  Live-in Formation Group Leader 2013-2014

Sarahphoto

Sarah’s Reflection on Service: Being a Part of a Welcoming Home

Two weeks ago my formation group had the incredible chance to help set up a home and greet a family of refugees from Bhutan. The family is Karin, a minority in Bhutan, and had been living in a refugee camp in Thailand.

The government puts out a list of what every refugee family needs when they come to the United States. This is the list we sent out to Cortina, friends and family to ask for donations. One plate for every member. One set of sheets for every bed. One couch. One table. It is a simple inventory list of things that have, over time, been deemed the things that every American household needs.

The five of us went on multiple Target runs, got donations from the community, and from Res Life. When Sarah and Emmett went to Target the first time, they made a really beautiful statement when they showed us the trunk full of blankets and pots and pans and other supplies. “Why get the cheapest stuff for this family?”  Emmett asked. “It seems sort of disrespectful doesn’t it?” It is very hard to imagine having a refugee camp being our only reality.  It was hard to imagine having to come to another sparsely furninshed home, already so confused, not understanding a single word, every experience new.

So, we began to make a new effort. Our goal became more than just setting up a functioning household. We began to try to make a home.

The night the family was going to land in Omaha, Emmett, Allison and I spent hours between the apartment, Target, and our own dorms, running around, setting up. Allison offered a beautiful piece of art she had made. We bought a tiny teddy bear for the little girl. We color coordinated the bathroom. I fabreezed the smell of cats away.  The apartment became cozy and welcoming.

Finally, the time came for the family to arrive at the airport. Our theology paper was due the next day, but Allison and I had already accepted the reality that we would be up all night, so we scooped up Sarah and headed to the airport.

There we met the interpreter’s family, a wild bunch of little kids. The most beautiful little family walked of the airplane. They were timid, understandably overwhelmed. When we got back to the apartment we showed them all of their new things, and welcomed them home. Allison and I watched nervously as the mom took a bite of a snickerdoodle we had made—her first taste of American food.

The most touching moment of the night was when they all shook our hands, even the six year old girl. They were tired after 48 hours of traveling, scared, confused, but, grateful.

I believe we truly made a difference in the lives of this family. I’d like to think that the red blanket we draped over the couch wasn’t just another source for warmth, but proof that they are welcome here, that someone here cherishes them. America is our home. We want it to be their home too. We want to be a part of that home.

So, I really encourage you to make an effort. Look at how the choices you make allow you to interact with people differently.  Smile at strangers. Give home- made art. Bake an extra batch of cookies.  Such beautiful lives surround you. Become a part of them.

-Sarah Peraud


 IMG_0010 IMG_0011 IMG_0013 IMG_0020 IMG_0034 IMG_0040 IMG_0041 IMG_0048 IMG_0055 IMG_0060