The MSA-ers on Spring Break in Virginia have been busy getting to know the area and working with Feeding America, but every now and then they take the time to share stories and musings about what they’ve been up to. Nour Soubani, one of the ASB-ers this year, recaps the team’s week in Virginia in this reflection for Friday, March 8th.
For the fourth day in a row, we rush to get out of bed, get dressed, make our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and load into the cars to pull into Feeding America at 9 AM.
Although it was the same routine—wiping cans, packing boxes, checking expiration dates—a certain anxiety came over us as we realized it was our last day. After half a day of work, we drove to a nearby mosque for Friday prayer. At a masjid we’ve never been to, surrounded by people we’ve never met, we had an experience that brought us back to the universality of our rituals; the Friday prayer was for the most part what we were used to, just in a completely different community.
After prayer, we headed back to Feeding America for our final hour and half of work. We cleaned up the warehouse and met with James, who had a surprise for us. He had been on the radio that morning and talked about our group—about meeting us and befriending us and how he had seen that as a blessing from God. As we listened to the recording, it was bittersweet; it was the end of a short-lived relationship, but the relationship was one that had affected all of us and taught us about having faith and compassion, even with a group of complete strangers. Robert and Jessica, who both also work at Feeding America, joined us for a final round of pictures and thank-yous and goodbyes.
Done with our work, we went back to the church, changed, and drove downtown for dinner. It was quaint, reminiscent of the streets of Ann Arbor. We settled on Indian cuisine, and as we waited for our food in the warm and dimly lit restaurant, there was a different atmosphere this time than for our first meal together. Everyone knew each other now, and there was never a moment of silence. We were content, enjoying each other’s presence and talking about movies, food, friends, and the past week’s experiences. After dinner, we walked around, got coffee and tea, and headed back to the church to have our final reflection and get ready for Saturday’s trip. During the reflection we talked about struggles with faith, about when it’s hard to stay connected to Allah (SWT), and about striving to handle these times of weakness and make our relationships with Allah (SWT) a consistent part of our lives. At the end of a week of service, the reflection was a way to come back to the ultimate goal: pleasing Allah (SWT) and helping each other to come closer to Him.
This trip was one week, one week that—throughout the rest of the year—would go by unnoticed in the same routine of school, work, friends, family. But this week was special; it was life-changing because of the relationships we built, the generosity we experienced, the conversations we had. It was a time to leave behind the stress and worries of our everyday lives and focus on the things we usually neglect: our spirituality, serving others, talking to people and learning from them, developing goals and worldviews. It was truly a blessing to be a part of this group and learn the lessons we learned, and—returning home—I hope that we can emulate some of these lessons in order to serve our communities through our experiences this past week.