Although their paths are different, they all recognize having received alot through their education and their entourage. They all have the desire to put themselves at the service of those less fortunate than them. They all feel indebted, not like a burden which emprisons them nor a debt they feel they are forced to pay back, but as a joyous gift to share.
The volunteers become conscious, during their week of required training, of the springboard that this period of their life that they give will be. The volunteering will make them more mature. It will be a foundation for their lives and it will allow their faith to take root. They will face poverty and suffering of different kinds, often among the those weaker than them. They will have to pray in a foreign language, often during rites that they will learn to know, among communities that they will discover and learn to love.
Receiving one’s mission and one’s next
Like the missionnary priests, the MEP volunteers do not choose their destination and their mission, they will receive them. This will allow them to don clothes of service before their departure. One does not choose one’s next, one receives him, thus does it go with one’s mission. This is a condition which has an appeal, and which is a particularity of the MEP volunteering. The MEP volunteers are sent as a service to the Church. They work with missionnaries, religious communities, or for certain projects of the Church, with the local Church. The missions vary : animation, education, management, construction… etc. They allow each of the volunteers to open up and discover themselves.
The volunteers are made to teach french, english, music, computer science, or other areas to reinforce or train the local teaching groups. They intervene at schools, in the universities, with the religious communities and seminarians, or professional structures.
The Church plays a particular role in the medical domain in Asia and the Indian Ocean. Volunteers are sent to aid lepers, the elderly, and HIV-AIDS patients, or in clinics. Volunteers are sent to animate the daily life of childen in homes, or to help handicapped people, or in chaplaincies. Others help in the field using their skills in management, communication, construction, or accounting for the diocese or schools.
Feeling needs and expectations
But beyond their technical skills, the MEP volunteers are witnesses of their faith within their mission. Being a volunteer means discovering a different culture, a different way of life and a new language. By participating in the daily life of the christian community which receives them, the volunteers discover a new reality. Nothing led them to it, if not their faith. Waking up at 5:15 a.m. to pray with the sick of the center, sweep the courtyard twice a day, peel vegetables in the kitchen, are all small, seemingly meaningless things which transform this time given into a time of volunteering. They learn to love the people placed on their path in everday activities. They came to give, and discover, in their mission, that they receive much more than they could possibly give. The founding experience of brotherly love allows one to shed light on these words of the Christ : « That which will show to all men that you are my disciples, is the love you will have for one another ». (Jn 13, 35).