Patrick with his friends in Honduras
Patrick Kluesner, CVV 17
When I think back before I started CVV, it was not what I had pictured myself doing after college. I am a planner and I had a five year plan for myself. I wanted to go abroad right after graduation and serve in a Spanish speaking country for the first year. This is not what God had planned for me at the time. It was not until three years after college that I got the opportunity to serve abroad. Through this I’ve realized I don’t live on my own time but on God’s time.
During my year at CVV, I was not completely in my comfort zone when it came to my work at Arrupe Jesuit High School. I loved Arrupe, but I was still growing as a person and could not fully use all my gifts I had as an individual there. I was coming from a household in rural Kentucky with both parents, who worked, and that I thought the world of. At Arrupe, I was working with inner city high schoolers from underprivileged backgrounds and many of them came from tough homes. I was not yet comfortable in my skin and up for the challenge of developing relationships with students of a diverse background and who had no problem challenging authority. Even though I was not my best self at Arrupe, CVV was there to help foster my growth, especially in terms of community.
Like most CVVers, community was a big part of my year. It set the standard for the three communities that I would have afterward. The idea of intentionality became very important to me. I learned to seek out those relationships with community members that were not the best at cultivating them to make them better. In addition, I learned that intentionality looked different to everyone in community. Many times I found myself in the kitchen during the year to be around others, and this is what I thought intentionality was in community. Those who were not in the kitchen, were not being intentional, but thankfully this thought changed as my year went on. Having this model of community to fall back on really helped me in other communities when I was struggling.
CVV set me on the path of God’s timing which eventually led me to Amigos de Jesus. In 2014, three years after college, I went to Amigos de Jesus, a children’s home in Honduras. In Honduras, I was exposed to new challenges of learning a new language, adapting to a new culture, developing new relationships, and forming a new community of volunteers who were all experiencing the same thing as me. Again I was put in position working with youth of a different background than me, but this time I felt more at ease dealing with them. With all these new challenges, community was one of the most difficult because we were all processing this experience differently. With CVV’s background, though difficult at times, I felt comfortable enough to be intentional with my community members and push for the community support that I found in CVV.
Even with these new challenges at Amigos, I felt comfortable at my new home, making relationships with the children and caretakers in a different culture and language. I extended my one year commitment to two. It is a place that I have fallen in love with. I have since made the trip back three times, I am writing this article while there visiting for my entire teacher summer break.
I wonder what my first year would have looked like out of college if I was serving abroad instead of at CVV. I am thankful God led me to both CVV and Amigos on his time. Without the experience of Arrupe and the tools that CVV gave me, my experience at Amigos would have looked very different. In my life there have been many things that I planned out to complete by a certain time, but it never seems to work out. I am thankful God has the perfect time line for me.