For most of the past four years, Ageena has served as a CFNA volunteer, assisting with ESL classes, and with the Health and Wellness Screening program. Here she shares her observations and reflections.
In July of 2013, my son, John, and I were visiting friends at the LCMS synodical convention and met Pastor Teddy Workeneh and his wife at the CFNA exhibit booth. I had been looking for places to volunteer; as a stay-at-home mom, I wished to find somewhere to help here in St. Louis city. When I realized the Peace Center was only seven blocks from our home, I spoke with Carol Buckman, asking if I could volunteer.
At first, I helped with the ESL classes and was amazed to be meeting people from all over the world. The classes were the highlight of our week, as John would often come with me. I had learned sign language, as John is deaf, but the new languages at the Peace Center were so much harder. One afternoon, I was leading the class, and a few ladies from Bhutan were teaching me how to say vegetable names in their language while I was teaching them to say those names in English. They were way more successful than I was, and my attempts at vocalizing Nepali words had us all in stitches.
In August of 2014, I started back to school to finish my education and pursue the dream of medicine. Carol invited me to help with the Health and Wellness Screenings, and I have been checking blood sugars there ever since. I help with other things too, but mostly check glucose levels and talk to those who have abnormal numbers to help them understand how to care for themselves. While the language barrier does pose a challenge, I find the transient nature of the care provided to be most challenging. There are some who come back time and again, and I get to see them make progress; their hard work to care for themselves is inspiring and beautiful to watch. But others I only see once, and then they don’t return. Though I pray they are having good outcomes, I never really know.
This past December, I graduated from University of Missouri – St Louis with a bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, Summa Cum Laude, and started working at an urgent care center here in the city. My plan is to apply to medical school in May of this year, and God willing, to begin studies in the fall of 2018. Until then, I will be at the Peace Center for the health screenings, checking glucose, talking to those with high numbers about eating less carbs and getting some exercise, and assuring those with good numbers that they are doing well.
To be sure, I have been blessed with this opportunity to travel the world through these beautiful people that God has brought to St. Louis.
Holy Cross Lutheran Church for the Deaf