Volunteer Stories - Liz Supple

Reflections on the End of an AMA Year
"I am genuinely happier than I ever have been."

"Today is July 12 and I am 2 days away from officially completing my AMA year. I’d like to take some time to reflect and say something about the incredible, transformative, enlightening experience this year has been. 

There are no sufficient adjectives to sum up the past 11 months. They are all too vague, and most are too hokey for me to feel comfortable using them. Instead, I’d like to share the story of my Tuesday and Thursday morning routine at our English as a Second Language classes. It’s only a small snippet of an enormous year that has been packed with moments and stories, but I think it illustrates some of the overarching emotions and themes I’ve personally experienced this year.

At English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, I was responsible for the pre-school aged kids whose parents otherwise wouldn’t have been able to attend. Most regularly I had two kids – Nana, a 4 year old girl, and Kenny, a 4 year old boy. Occasionally other kids would come, and I’d be watching as many as 4 or 5 kids, but almost always there was Kenny and Nana. But regardless of how many there were, it was inevitable that at some point during those two hours of classes, their tiny little bladders would fill. So I would have to take them down the stairs, through the back of the lower church, to the bathroom in the very back.

Invariably, once we got there, Nana would remark with delight and surprise, “It’s blue!” It, of course, referred to the water in the toilet bowl. Kenny would invariably be delighted by the suds of the soap and declare, “Bubbles!” (Eventually, each picked up the other’s habit, making bathroom breaks exciting regardless of who was there.) Finally I would get their hands rinsed and dried (Kenny would keep plunging his hands back into the soapy water in the sink, so it could take more time than you might expect), and we would begin the trek back to our classroom filled with blocks and crayons. Having been cruelly cut off from the delight of the bubbles, their joy with the bathroom would pass and they’d want to get back to the very important task of making the classroom as messy as possible. Thusly, the moment I opened the bathroom door they would stampede – toddlers never run but always stampede, I would learn, even when there is only two of them – towards the front of the church to go back upstairs.

As I walked behind them, I often looked to the Tabernacle and thought, “I know I probably shouldn’t let them run, Jesus. But you understand, right?” About this same time, Nana would be about halfway up the church, pause, look back at me, and motion for me to come on and catch up with her, Kenny, and whoever else might be there that day.

This routine filled me with peace, and I soon came to think of it as less a routine and more a ritual. Standing there in the back of the church, one eye on the Tabernacle housing the Eucharist, other eye on my children, I knew that God was there, with us, around us, within us. I am just about the farthest thing a person can be from a mystic, but for me these moments could only be described as transcendent.

Unfortunately time and space prohibit me from sharing with you similar stories of the things I’ve experience, like the preschooler who insisted that she hug me goodbye 3 times on my last day at the preschool, or watching the garden kids faithfully turn the compost that was stinky from a lack of “browns” (carbon-rich materials like yard clippings).

I am tempted to say that I am a different person today than I was 11 months ago. But while it is true that I have changed and grown, I am not really a “different person.” Rather, I am simply more myself, more the person God created and calls me to be, than I ever have been before. With a little luck and a whole lot of grace, I believe that the tools I’ve been given during my AMA year will help me to continue up this path.

I am genuinely happier than I ever have been. And I owe so much of that to you – the Assumption Family and Friends. So thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for all you do and have done to support me, the AMA program, and the Religious of the Assumption. Thank you for all of your kind words, your welcoming, and your prayers. Thank you for your generosity to AMA, the Assumption Center, and all of the programs we are able to run with your help. Thank you. My hope and prayer for all of you is that you may feel the overwhelming abundance of blessings and grace which I’ve experienced this past year. Thank you and God bless."

—Liz Supple, AMA (Worcester) 2011-12


Volunteer Stories and Reflections:

Chaparral, New Mexico
Kristen Penkala, 2007-08
Andrea de Castro, 2006-07
Maggie McCormick, 2005-06

Worcester, MA
Liz Supple, 2011-12
Pierre Tardivo, 2007-08
Liz Clayton, 2006-07

Mexico City, Mexico
Brendan Carey, 2009-2010

Bognor-Regis, England
Matt Collins, 2006-07
Beth Sheehan, 2006-07

Newcastle, England
Kathleen Gardner, 2011-12
Rebecca Ickes, 2009-10