Javier and Isabel, volunteers from ARCORES, Augustinian-Recoleta International Solidarity Network.

Javier Guzmán is the pedagogical director of the Saint Augustine School of the Augustinian Recollects in Motril, Granada, Spain. Isabel García is a Vocational Training teacher. Both are also a family and volunteers from ARCORES, the International Augustinian Recollect Solidarity Network.

Isabel, you have been involved with the Augustinian-Recollect Family all your lives.

First of all, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to share with readers a little of our lives. The truth is that it makes us very happy. Yes, since I was a child I have been linked to the Augustinian Recollects. They are my little-big family, since I have grown up with them (in all the senses) and with them I walk in this fascinating adventure called life.

Through them I was very lucky to know the beautiful, great and humanitarian work that carried out by the Augustinian-Recollect Family, giving life, in its maximum extension, to the famous phrase of Saint Augustine: “The measure of love is to love without measure.” When you bring love into the world, it comes out from your comfort zone, give your time, share words, moments and gestures with those who need it most, discover the true meaning of being a Christian.

That encouraged me to become a member and volunteer at ARCORES: to see that a better world is possible from affection, selfless dedication, closeness, simplicity, humanity, continuous work, infinite love and endless more values.

ARCORES is hope, emotion, feeling, growth and faith. Hope because he draws smiles in difficult circumstances; emotion because everything is done from and with the heart; feeling because there is immense love in each project; growth because it is much more what is received than what is given; and faith because spirituality and evangelization are the solid foundation that makes ARCORES special.

Isabel, in this secluded environment you met Javier and in 2017 you made your first volunteering together in Marajó, Brazil. What did it bring you?

There is a before and after in our lives with volunteering. If it is already nice to live it, do it as a couple much more. I knew that I was 100% in love with Javier, I witnessed his essence, interiority, values, commitment and immense love for others. Now we share that greatness of “giving” and that is our greatest and best commitment.

As a person I learn to value every small moment, detail or gesture and to take care of the people that God puts in my path. As a couple, as a small detail, I will say that in our alliances is that phrase from Saint Augustine that I quoted before, each one carries a half. By uniting the alliances of our marriage, an even greater commitment of faith and community solidarity.

Volunteering offers to find yourself through others. The most humble and simple people truly know how to touch the heart, they offer everything they are and share everything they have. They don’t need more to teach the best lesson in the world. They have taught me to be grateful and to bless every moment I live.

Now I feel that life is the best of gifts. I contribute much less than what I receive, there is no color! They deserved me to give my best and that is what I have always tried: to give myself without stopping working, from my weaknesses and failures, my improved version.

Saint Augustine said: “if you need a hand, remember that I have two”; or “love and do what you want.” Well, the Augustinian Recollect charisma is characterized by that desire to live, to share, for that restless heart capable of transforming the world. That makes ARCORES, activate the Augustinian Recollect charisma.

Javier, you have volunteered with ARCORES in Brazil, Ecuador or Panama, and you have even been volunteer coordinator. What would you highlight about those places and tasks?

First of all and like Isabel, I would like to thank you for this beautiful work of dissemination and for counting on us for it, we are two small mustard seeds.

Secondly, thank God, I have had the opportunity to live with several ARCORES international volunteering, each one different, unique and special, which has made me get more excited every day with my commitment to and for the world. I don’t want to be anymore still before life, but I need that continuous walk with my brother.

For example, I could mention some tasks and experiences with the Augustinian Missionaries Recollects Sisters (MAR) in Ecuador: their ability to give themselves to people, the sweetness and love they put in everything, their ability to evangelize through that closeness with the people.

From one of their tasks I keep something that touched my soul and my heart as a man, husband and, now, father: the training, care and attention of very young girl mothers in situations unfavorable or have even suffered things unthinkable for us.

The MARs are their family, give them personal, social and cultural well-being. To this we add the great evangelizing work that are making. They are worthy of admiration. We, as a family, plan to volunteer. It is true that our son is still very little, but as soon as circumstances allow, we will all be there together, in some corner of the world, collaborating.

What impression have the missions and missionaries of the Augustinian-Recollect Family given you?

It has not been the volunteering, nor the places where I have been, where I have learned that Missionaries are capable of saying “yes” in all its amplitude, forgetting about themselves to turn to others.

Their work is worthy of admiration and the greatest recognition. Sometimes I think: “I wish all “The world could see the beautiful work they do!” There are no words to express and thank that great work. In those places people adore them thanks to their effort, sacrifice and daily work.

The volunteers contribute their desire, a lot of enthusiasm and a future commitment: desire because it is essential to go with a full heart to give the best of oneself; illusion because it is very important to have a positive attitude towards reality, full of difficulties and hard circumstances; and future commitment because this joint project cannot remain fruitless ephemeral or momentary.

Everything can be improved, it’s the grace of life, if not… what a bore! It’s fundamental change the way of perceiving things during volunteering, knowing how to take advantage and enjoy the making of the most shared moments, soaking up what is experienced to share it when you return everyday reality.

Volunteering is not a vacation or tourism to see the world. It goes more much more there: adapt to the circumstances with the best smile, be grateful and give 100% without forgetting that we are God’s instrument.

Has volunteering changed your life as believers?

Being part of ARCORES means a positive renewal of the person on a daily basis. Inside that “continuous improvement” is our shared life as believers. In our daily life Prayer is key, it is that pillar that we need so much, that source from which we drink to to satisfy our concerns. Neither of us conceive of action without prayer, nor the other way. Both must go hand in hand.

ARCORES allows us to enhance those restless hearts, like that of Saint Augustine, capable of engage with the world and act, from each person’s reality and circumstances. Also allows you to strengthen the spiritual plane, makes you internalize the Word of God through the acts.

Finally, we could talk about the fullness of the heart and the tremendous happiness that is felt when, from human smallness, you feel loved, welcomed and an active part of the Augustinian-Recollect Family. And this, in turn, leads you to greater commitment. From here we invite you to be an active part of this small-large Augustinian-Recollect Family.

We are all necessary and we can all do something, no matter how small it may seem. We are all capable of building a better world. You are welcome, with wide open arms, without you none of this would be possible.

We are waiting for you and I hope that at the next ARCORES meeting we can meet you, as member or volunteer. Thank you all for your time and may God bless you.