A promise of 730 days: 1,051,200 minutes: countless breaths. A promise I made, not just to myself, but to my community, to my family. I vowed that I would share my life for 2 years with others, that I would give of myself completely, live outside of myself, while taking in everything that anyone had to share with me.
228 days. A broken promise. Sadness, guilt, fear, frustration, despair… then a rush to fight it all. To fight the injustice that I felt was being enacted, not just upon myself, but on my community, on my family.
I didn’t win the fight, well, not in that moment.
My name is Hannah Klein. I was a Jesuit Volunteer on the island of Weno, Chuuk State, the Federated States of Micronesia from August 2019 to March 2020. The reality is that the Jesuit Volunteer Corps made an incredibly difficult decision, to pull out all its international volunteers because of the situations evolving around COVID19. It was a wise decision, made with liabilities and people’s lives in mind, and I respect it.
However, it didn’t stop me from feeling everything that I felt. From having to shift my life, a life that I thought I was going to live for two years, in just three days. To say goodbye without choosing to, and in many cases, to not even be able to say goodbye. I just disappeared. I felt guilty and was weighed down by this feeling of selfishness and privilege. I was leaving “because I could, to save myself, to go to a place with better medical facilities, to no longer be someone’s liability.”
Yet, it wasn’t my decision.
And in light of that “non-decision,” I began to make my own again. Despite the bitterness, confusion, and shock that I was in when I came back, I said, “Wait.” I decided to continue volunteering for my Chuukese brothers and sisters, for Akoyikoyi, the school that I left. I decided to stop being angry with the reality I was facing and started to form it again. I decided to continue loving, supporting… being who I am.
I am a promise-maker. So although the circumstances of my promises have changed, I will continue to uphold the beauty behind them. To share my life with others, not just for two years, but for always. To give of myself completely, to live outside of myself, and to take in everything that anyone has to share with me, even their decisions.
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