The little things we have in life are often taken for granted: the ability to have a home we call our own, to farm our own land, grow our own food, to have clean running water in the comfort of our own home, instead of carrying it from a lake that isn’t likely to be clean, to raise a family without worrying about money. These small and simple things we often take for granted, while other people spend a life time trying to obtain them.
Anne Frank once said, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single
moment before starting to improve the world.” I am proud to say that over this summer I was given my chance, my moment to do just that. Every few summers my church travels to a town in Guatemala called San Lucas Toliman to volunteer with the mission established in the 80’s. Sparked with the desire to help others, and visit a foreign country, I joined the mission team that made the journey in June.
Our group set off for the mission with high hopes and wishes to help these people in any way possible. There were two works sites that our group had the opportunity to work at, their Women’s Center, and their coffee farm. While at the Women’s Center we were re-cementing the roof and carrying rocks. While on their farm we were packing pots for planting coffee and helping their workers carry rocks to build a road to where the coffee beans would be dried. While working we not only got the opportunity to learn more about each other in our group, but we were given the chance to learn more about the people we helped.
While spending my ten days down in Guatemala, I became acutely aware of these little things in life I take for granted. One thing that certainly had a big impact for me was their lack of clean water. Whenever I am thirsty at home I am able to simply turn on a faucet to get clean, fresh, cold water. In San Lucas Toliman their drinking water needs to be shipped to them, or gathered from the lake. We not only had to bring bottled water, but we had to be wary of even the water we used to wash our hands for fear of getting sick.
As the trip went on I became more and more aware of how little these people had, how much they did without. Many of these people struggled just to earn enough money to provide for their family through the month; very few of them had a stable income to supply themselves for long periods of time. They seemed to have so little compared to the life I had back home; yet, there was one thing they did not seem to lack, and that was
The joy that these people had in their everyday lives, that seemed so foreign and was lacking in me, was simply breathtaking; it seemed to radiate from everything they did. It was contagious. I found myself going about my day with a smile, happy to be helping in any little way possible. When I returned home from my mission trip, I realized that not only did I change the lives of those at the mission, but my life had changed as well. With newfound respect for the simple things in life like my basic needs being met with little to no struggle, I now know that changing the lives of others doesn’t need to start in a foreign country; all it takes is the motivation and desire to help others, and the courage to start at home.
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