Dear Community (Querida Comunidad),
My name is Setareh, and I am one of the two recent George School graduates on this trip. In today’s blog, I will be discussing the church service we attended today, in addition to our trip to a Cuban resort.
This morning, the George School group had the blessing of attending our first sermon at the church in which we are staying. One of our very own students, Richard, was given the opportunity to preach today, and we also heard from Roxy (our Cuban-Quaker exchange student from last year…and my former roommate!). The service also included musical performances by Sydney and Holdyn, and a handful of readings from Melissa, Roxy’s best friend here in Holguin. Melissa will be a new junior next year at George School.
The service began with some biblical reflections led by local community members, followed by Roxy’s sermon, which was based on her experience at George School. She discussed how our community had helped her feel at home, and how teachers like Fran Bradley, Molly Stephenson, Jenna Davis, Ileabeth Ayala, and Tom Hoopes welcomed her and took care of her. It was clear how deeply she had been impacted by these individuals, and it was quite powerful to see her speak openly about her difficulty leaving her family for the first time and her excitement for coming to GS.
However, it still came as a surprise when she addressed me by reading aloud what I had written her in her yearbook at the end of last year. I could not stop myself from crying and tried to hide behind the students sitting next to me. The trip (thus far) had been a beautiful experience, but nothing had evoked such emotion in me as this had (so far). Roxy’s words of wisdom regarding the light that others give us and the blessings that we receive through others put me into an odd limbo of thought, in which I struggled to understand why her truth resonated so deeply with many, including myself. For me, it may be because of my complicated past and my life in Iran. It may be because Roxy is like a sister to me. It may be because “giving” is a human reality that we all share.
Richard preached next. He posed a question: “When do we know when the light has overcome the darkness?” I soon learned that the answer was “when we can share that light in ourselves with others.” This connected to the wisdom that a community leader named William shared with us in the youth group today regarding the necessity to take action when we feel that something is not right or unjust. I thought about how being able to advocate for our personal rights and desires is wonderful, but after considering Richard’s sermon, I realized that going beyond our own needs and taking it upon ourselves to ensure the well-being of other people is truly enlightening.
Right after the church service was over, we went out to lunch with a few of the church members and went swimming at a Cuban resort. It was great to see everyone laughing and enjoying themselves in the pool after having a meal accompanied by live music. This was a wonderful end to our day, and even though I am still ruminating on today’s sermon, I look forward to what will come tomorrow, too.
Still in thought,