Meet An Amigo ~ Clay Mathews
2018-2019 ADJ Volunteer
Mr. Clay is currently finishing up the last few months of his year and a half at Amigos de Jesús. He has spent his time teaching English and valores (religion), coordinating therapy, and spending lots of time with the girls of his hogar, Santa Rosa de Lima.
When he is not teaching or doing therapy you will find him helping the madrinas out around the hogar, playing baseball or soccer, accompanying the girls on walks to the nearby town, or helping the older kids with philosophy homework. He is a great sport when they lovingly make fun of him, and the little ones enjoy it when he spins or chases them around.
He has shared his deep devotion to the Catholic faith by looking for opportunities to pray with the kids and fellow community members. His humility and willingness to help with whatever is needed has been a great gift to his volunteer community and the Amigos de Jesús family.
Read more about Mr. Clay in his interview below:
Hometown: Twin Falls, Idaho
University: The College of Idaho
What is your role at Amigos?
Therapy coordinator, valores (relgion) teacher, English teacher.
How did you first hear about Amigos de Jesús?
I found it on Catholic Volunteer Network.
What were you doing before you came to Amigos?
I was farming and living with my two best friends in Caldwell Idaho.
What made you decide to stay for another 6 months?
This answer seems to be cliché or the "go to" for all volunteers that choose to stay longer, but the simple answer is the kids. When I was discerning to stay longer, I kept feeling like I hadn't had enough time with the kids. The thought of saying goodbye to them after only a year (which is a long time!) seemed to be so short. To me, it seemed like my experience would not be complete if I didn't give it 6 more months. To be blessed with more time with the kids seemed to be an obvious answer for me.
What is your favorite part of your job?
One of my favorite parts of my jobs is to see the kids in my valores classes. Anytime I ask them questions about faith or God or anything related, they light up and are so eager to share the things that they know. It is remarkable to me the knowledge they have of faith even down to the 1st graders. I never get tired of hearing the kids tell me what they know of their faith, and especially the verve and passion they always convey it with.
What’s something you really like (or what’s something that’s really special) about being an Amigos de Jesús volunteer?
Something that I really like about being an Amigos de Jesus volunteer is that our "job" description is almost endless. We can be involved in almost every area of the hogar in just one day. From teaching the kids English in the school, to passing out medicine to the kids, to being called to help wrap presents for every kid in the hogar during Christmas, our work seems to be what the day demands and we are just here to help in any way we can. But, of course, one of the most special parts of being a volunteer is being with and developing relationships with the kids. Being able to spend time in the hogar you are assigned to and create relationships with those kids, and feel as though you are part of the extended family is really remarkable. From just sitting and joking with the kids, to going on birthday walks with them, to playing basketball in Macuelizo with them, to cooking food with them on Sundays, we really get to live daily life with the kids. To me, that is the "most special" part of being a volunteer.
What’s something you’ve learned as a volunteer and/or what is something that the kids have taught you in your time as a volunteer?
Something that I have learned in my time at Amigos, or something the kids have taught me? It is hard to just pick one thing. It seems that every day we learn something new, or are pushed to think about things in a new way. I guess the one thing that I go back to is something I have learned from the kids. The kids have an incredible ability to give love. When I first arrived, I had ideas of how I could help or things that I could do based on my talents or strengths. I was viewing love as a transactional process. "The kids will like me because I have this talent or that strength, etc." But as all of us volunteers learn very quickly while we are down here, it isn't about the things we are able to do or the things we identify ourselves with. In many cases, those things just get in the way. The kids just want us! They want someone to show up and be present to them. They don't care about what we majored in, or about the things we identity ourselves with. They care about our ability to care and to love. This is a tremendously difficult thing to learn especially for a person who came from the U.S. The fact that these kids can love me while I haven't "done" anything for them seems to be impossible. But the kids see through all our insecurities and masks we put on to validate ourselves. They just see us, and that is enough. The kids, in some small way, have shown me a glimpse of how God loves each and every one of us. He just wants us not our masks. The kids want that too, and it is such a blessing to give that to them even if it has taken a long time to learn it.