On spring break of 2011, my senior year, my family and I went on a mission trip to Guatemala. It was one of the most memorable experiences I have ever been on. We went to provide medical, humanitarian, and relational assistance for various villages in country.
One of the villages that we went to was the village of Embalada. There we held a children’s carnival which was so much fun! The kids had a blast and so did we. We also went into a village called Gorion. This village compared to Embalada was much poorer. We held a medical clinic, where each family was seen by a doctor and was given medicine if needed and vitamins as well. The people of Gorion were thankful for what we were doing, because this was the first time some of those people had ever been seen by a doctor.
Another village we served was a village called, The Indigenous People of the Crystal River. This village was a squatter’s village, meaning that they basically found an area of land that they did not own, and built homes on it. These people were in danger of being burnt out by the land owners like many others already had been. However they were lucky enough to work something out with the land owners and they got to keep permanent residence. This village was tough to take in because their houses were literally huts built out of sticks and there bathrooms were small huts, with a tarp for a door, and a wooden box built over a hole in the ground. Although these people had nothing, they were happy and enjoyed life. The most difficult part about the stay in the squatter’s village was they did not speak Spanish. Instead they spoke the old Mayan language of K’iche’, and so we had to have two translators, one that could translate their language to Spanish and another who could translate from Spanish to English.
The last place we went was the Dump. This was a heart wrenching experience in that there were 10,000 people living among all the trash of Guatemala City. There were children playing in the sewage while their parents were working by sorting the trash, and being paid about eight dollars a week for it. The image of the extreme poverty will forever be etched in my mind.
The entire trip for me was an amazing experience. I truly learned to be thankful for what we have because we have so much, and many people have nothing yet never complain. I had a wonderful time bonding with the children there and playing with them and just seeing the smiles on their faces. I loved when they would try and teach me a game that had Spanish words to it and they would laugh when I couldn’t pronounce any of the words correctly it was very funny for them, and me as well. I plan to return and spend more time with the people I formed relationships with. Going to Guatemala also has sparked an interest in me to learn Spanish so I can better communicate with the people without a translator. The trip was amazing and exhausting, incredible and difficult, heart breaking yet life changing, but I wouldn’t trade my spring break this past year for the world.
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