For some the ultimate vacation is soaking up the sun, lying in the warm sand off of the shores of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. For others a favorite vacation spot might be hitting the slopes in Vail, Colorado. For me, the best vacation was not spending the week at the top of a penthouse suite, but spending my spring break at a mission house in Juarez, Mexico with 75 of my closest friends.
Spring break, two words that make high school and college students go crazy. It means partying in the Bahamas for a week, with absolutely no work involved. My spring break was the exact opposite of a luxury vacation in a five-star hotel. I spent my week in a mission home, waking up every morning at 7 A.M. and traveling to downtown Juarez, Mexico. The first two days consisted of building the foundation to a house, but this was no ordinary house. The home (when finished) would fit a family of ten, who currently lived in a run-down bus. The most rewarding part of this two-day journey was not the handy craftsmanship I learned at age 17, but the satisfaction that I felt knowing I truly gave someone a place to call their home.
The next two days we traveled to a smaller community in Juarez, and I spent my time filling sand bags with piles of dirt and mud. Yes, we spent over six hours packing dirt and mud into thousands of sandbags. After stuffing countless amounts of sandbags, we fit them together to build the walls of an Imaginarium. The Imaginarium was the center of the small community. The community was made up of children who had learning disabilities and physical ailments, and the Imaginarium was a sanctuary to go for prayer, inner thoughts, or relaxation. Even though we were not able to finish the structure in time to see the finishing product, I know the kids are right now looking at the stars and thanking God for such a wonderful community they were brought to.
The final day spent in Juarez, Mexico, my classmates and I had the opportunity to have fun and enjoy the company of the school children. We arrived at a school in Juarez, and immediately the two-year olds came running to our sides and hugged our legs. Now, my Spanish was not so great, but playing soccer and interacting with the little kids put a giant smile on my face.
For a week, I spent my spring break with no rest and relaxation, no pool-side service, and no five-course meals. Instead, I spent it building homes and interacting with less-fortunate children. My spring break vacation changed me for a lifetime because not only did I get to spend a week with friends, but I got to experience a culture I am not accustomed to and live a week without cell phones and television. This vacation may not have been my most lavish vacation, but by far did it top all other trips. Mother Theresa said, “Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.” Seeing a child smile because you helped them is worth way more than seeing the ocean-view from a penthouse suite.
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