In June, 2017 I went on an International Service Trip to Guatemala. I traveled with nine other University of Scranton students and two chaperones who are faculty here at the University. We went to San Lucas, Guatemala on a 10-day service trip. Prior to the trip I was not nervous, but just extremely grateful and excited to be a part of this experience. My heart was very open to all the amazing possibilities I knew were going to take place on the trip. I did feel blindsided because I didn’t really know what to expect. I didn’t know where we were staying, nor the details on what we were going to be doing when we were in Guatemala. Thankfully, my family was supportive of my decision to travel to Guatemala, but my mom was especially nervous for my safety while abroad. While her fears were legit, I had faith in my decision to attend this trip, and put my trust in God’s hands.
When I got off the plane and stepped outside of the airport, I felt a little uncomfortable. The environment felt different than what I was used to, along with being hot and noisy. We then hopped on a van and drove about three hours to San Lucas where we were going to be staying. As we were driving I began to feel more uncomfortable as I saw crowded streets and deteriorated homes with poverty like I have never seen before. I almost couldn’t believe what was in front of my eyes, and I thought to myself “Wow am I really doing this?”
When I got to our hotel the uncomfortableness continues and arose as our “hotel” was not anything like a hotel here in The United States. It was basically an old looking room filled with beds, and that was basically it. That night when I was going to sleep, I had tears in my eyes as I desperately missed my mom, my home, and the comfort of America.
Thankfully, I felt a lot better the next day, and as the week went on I grew more comfortable in my surroundings. Over the course of the 10 days I spent in Guatemala we did amazing things. Some of the things we did included building houses and stoves, touring the town, school, and hospital, learned how to make coffee, went to mass, and went to the women’s center where we learned how the women cooked and sewed daily.
As amazing as all the things we did were, my favorite part of the trip was meeting and connecting with the Guatemalan people. They were such amazing, faith-filled, humble, sweet, and loving individuals who make me want to be a better person. They were so extraordinary, and they really opened my eyes. At the one site, I got to play and dance with three little girls who were sisters. They were the sweetest most adorable girls who I made such a connection with. We had the best time together. We were building a new house for these girls who were so deserving of one. I really saw Jesus within the people of Guatemala, which truly changed my life. The special part about my relationships with the people in Guatemala was that most of them only spoke Spanish, yet we had such a connection where there was so much love present.
Going to Guatemala taught me so much about love and life. In Guatemala, there is so much poverty, yet so much love and happiness in the hearts of the people who live there. This helped me to realize how blessed and fortunate I am. I was reminded to be thankful each and every day for the little things- clean hot water to shower and drink, a toilet, and a house that isn’t made merely of dirt and wood. I was also grateful for things like an education, safety, and food on the table. I learned to be thankful and appreciate what really matters in life- faith, family, and love. Those are the things that I believe make you truly happy. Sometimes I can get so caught up in my silly first world problems, that I forget the things that some people are going through. My trip to Guatemala helped me love with all my heart, and I hope one day I can experience this once in a lifetime experience again.