When I decided to travel with Heart to Honduras to the remote village of Robledales for a medical mission trip, I was hoping to gain some medical experience, participate in a new culture, and practice my Spanish. However, I learned something much more valuable. The simplicity of life and the happiness of the children taught me that joy comes not from material objects, but through our perception of life experiences.
â–º honorable mention 2011 Teen Travel Writing Scholarship
In Honduras, life was simpler, appearances were irrelevant, and cell phones were useless. I expected to find this simplicity frustrating, but I quickly discovered my expectations were wrong. I’m a cheerleader, so naturally I wear makeup and straighten my hair on a regular basis. It was difficult, but I didn’t bring my straightener or a single tube of eye-liner — not that I could have used them anyway. We only had power half the time, and there wasn’t a mirror in sight. The funny thing was, I didn’t care. It was such a refreshing feeling to get up in the morning and already be ready for the day, and to know that no one would judge my appearance. I also have a very busy schedule back home, and I freak out if I don’t have my phone or I don’t know what time it is. In Honduras, it was strange. I had absolutely no concept of time. We went to bed when it was dark and got up when the sun did, or when the rooster did, whichever came first. There was no cell phone service or clocks. The U.S. could’ve been bombed and none of us would ever know it. Despite the isolation, I really enjoyed the freedom from the constant distraction of cell phones and facebook. I found it didn’t bother me that I couldn’t talk to anyone back home, and I thoroughly enjoyed the lack of schedule and craziness, and I was able to focus completely on my experience.
Even though I immensely enjoyed the simplicity of life, the Honduran children, more than anything, taught me that joy comes from perception of life experiences and not material possessions. As soon as I arrived in the village, I was instantly struck by the number of children; I immediately fell in love with them. I spent hours with them laughing and swinging from the rungs of a cattle truck. It was amazing how easily we communicated, despite the language barrier. There was Jose, who loved to tickle me, mimic me, and then laugh hysterically. There was Jamie, a girl who was fascinated with my camera. There was David, with whom I played “el plato” (Frisbee) for about 2 hours, and loved it. He never tired of throwing the disc, and neither did I because his joy was contagious. There was Onan, my little Spanish tutor. He taught me new words, laughed at my attempts to speak Spanish, then made me say them with the right pronunciation, all while grinning a smile that consumed half his face. They were also immensely proud of their homes. Jose led me and a few members of the team up the mountain to show us his “casa” (house). It was literally a hand-built, one room shack with boards stuck crookedly in the ground to create walls. He smiled and ran inside to get the rest of his family. The most amazing thing was that they had next to nothing, yet were all so happy. They found joy in a simple ball, Frisbee, or truck.
The kids and their lifestyle taught me that material possessions are irrelevant; joy comes from our perceptions, and can be found anywhere.
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