Imagine leaving your cell phone, email, hair dryer, and hot showers for two weeks and instead replacing them with beans and rice, baby wipe showers, and floods of hugs and kisses. This is how I kicked started the summer of my junior year. With a group of fifty junior and seniors, a total of sixty-five leaders and students, we departed my church at three a.m. for the airport anticipating a trip of a lifetime.
We were traveling to Guatemala and El Salvador for two weeks for a short mission trip, consisting of five small teams, but together one big group. The five groups would reach out to people in different areas of: mime, basketball, medical, service, and children. I chose to be on the children’s team because I felt that playing around with kids would be the most fun out of the five teams. I never expected to see what I saw when we arrived at our first village, Campur, in Guatemala.
A sea of children surrounded us, pulling all of our limbs as they beckoned us to come play with them even though many of us didn’t understand what they were saying. These kids wore dirty and ripped clothes on their frail bodies, and muddy flip-flops on their feet. But they were just happy that we were there to play with them.
The next day was our first real day of missions. The children’s team set out for a forty-five minute hike up a mountain to our first school. When we arrived we were slightly shocked, the school was only the size of one classroom but it was filled with children and their parents. All of the villagers were ecstatic to see people with such pale skin and they were full of joy when we showed them our bubble making machines. How could something so simple in our culture, completely amaze another? After our songs and puppet show the principal continually thanked us for coming and they presented us with crackers and soda. We were all so flattered because we knew that these people had barely anything, yet they spent money to buy us refreshments. The hike up that mountain was worth the hugs and thanks that we were given before we left.
Each school was a different experience, but I found a similarity in all of them. Even though all of these kids barely had anything, they seemed to be happier than any of us. These kids appreciated what they had and were proud to live their lives and share them with us. At one school in El Salvador, after our show, the kids surrounded us with notebooks and pens, asking for our autographs. We were like celebrities to them, and some of the girls even gave us bracelets that they made.
One of my friends who was working in the medical clinic came up to me at the end of the day and told me about a little girl that had come into the clinic. The girl asked my friend if she knew an Asian girl, who’s name is Kimberly, and my friend said she knew me. The little girl was so excited, she started telling my friend about how she’d met me and how I’d gone to her school the other day to perform songs and dances.
This trip absolutely made a huge impact in my life. Now that I’m back home I appreciate everything that I have, because I know there are millions of kids that have less than half of what I have but carry smiles worth a million dollars on their faces.