First Week Musings

keep-calm-first-weekHello there! My name is Katie Iversen, and I’m a new member of the Kaio Community. For the next year, I will be a full-time volunteer at Emmaus. When I was a junior at Franciscan University of Steubenville, I came to Emmaus with twelve other students, and we spent a week amongst the men loving and serving them. During that week, the men and the mission of Emmaus branded my heart, and I always knew I’d come back. It’s now been five years since I was last at Emmaus, but there is no other ministry that I am more passionate about, so I’m thrilled to be here.

One of my other loves is writing, so I’ll be submitting a blog post every week—so, you’re stuck with me! I was asked to write a reflection about my first week at Emmaus. Gosh, there is an endless amount to write. This is my first time living in Chicago. I left behind my friends, family, and beautiful Catholic community. I don’t yet know anyone here. And it was my first week with the men.

Before I moved to Emmaus, I had no concerns about actually working with the men. My experience with the men five years ago was powerful and beautiful: they opened up and shared their lives with me, and we connected and bonded at once. This time I expected to fit right in again, and for the men to take to me immediately. My fears were more based on moving to the city and living in intentional community. Well, as of now, living in Chicago with the other Kaio members has proven to be much easier than interacting with the men.

I understand relationships are built on trust and time, but I was not expecting resistance from the men. Emmaus is undergoing a number of changes, including staff, which is a difficult adjustment for them. At the same time, I assumed they’d be more open and engaging with me; but so far, it seems like most of them are ignoring me or are deterred by my presence. This week, I have been struggling finding my place amongst the guys. I don’t know what to say, or what my role as a staff member looks like yet. Since we don’t yet know each other’s stories, it’s a challenge finding ground we can both stand on.

I took all that was on my heart before the Lord in prayer. I was reminded that I cannot be an apostle of Jesus Christ without effort. The Lord led me to Mark 2:1-4, which is the story of the paralytic being led down to Jesus through the roof. Jesus said to me, “It is not as easy as walking through the front door. You, my dear, must go through the roof. But, think of what is on the other side. Jesus! Heaven.”

I am currently reading a masterpiece called My Other Self by Clarence Enzler, and Christ is the narrator in this book. The reflection last night pierced me: “Do not think that Paul had only to enter a city, preach a sermon or two, baptize the converts who flocked to him by the thousands, and then go on his way to new fields and new cities. Paul preached for many years in the regions of Syria and Cilicia. He was in Antioch for a year, in Corinth for eighteen months, in Ephesus for three years. Paul made prodigious efforts and met with violent opposition, far more than you will be called upon to withstand. No, I do not promise to spare you work and trials; but I will make your burden light. Carry only a sliver of my cross, and I will carry all except a sliver of yours.”

My ministry here will be a ministry of time. The men we serve at Emmaus have no reason to trust or like me—so many people in their lives have abused and degraded them. However, the Lord called me to Emmaus for a specific reason, and I have no doubt that He prepared a place for me here. I must have faith that Jesus will use my gifts and talents to love and transform the hearts of these men. I am going to continue showing up day in and day out. I will climb the roof to see Jesus on the other side. And who is Jesus, after all? The men of Emmaus.

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