For this Travel Tuesday I want to share with you my experience of Mission work abroad.
Today was a crazy, busy day! First off, we are still reflecting and talking about the catastrophe that happened yesterday here in Guatemala. There are constantly new videos and photos that my teacher friends keep showing us at work. More bodies found and new ideas of ways to help those who were affected. We started a GoFundMe if you’d like to help.
During this time of sorrow, I’ve been reminded about the things that are important in this life. Let’s continue to pray for the ones who are suffering.
Today at our school we welcomed 15 volunteers from the United States who are spending their week with us. They joined us in our classes with different activities and stories to share.
The volunteers that joined me in my three classes (3rd, 4th and 5th grade) were the judges for our spelling bee. It was a fun experience showing off my students and their spelling skills to the volunteers. Makes me so proud!
When the school day ended, I was asked by the chaperone of the group of volunteers to share my experience of moving abroad and working at Esperanza Juvenil. This gave me the chance to really think about and reflect on my work here. I hadn’t actually sat down and reflected on this amazing experience that I’m living for a while. When I first began working here, I felt I was always reflecting and thinking about the great opportunity I was living. But recently I’ve been very busy and honestly, a little bit overwhelmed.
I was grateful for the chance to share my experience. It’s an experience of a lifetime. Working at Esperanza Juvenil has changed my life. It’s opened my eyes to new experiences and visions I never thought were even there. I’m blessed to be a role model and adult figure to these children that come from very under-resourced areas.
One thing I shared with them that always gives me the chills thinking about, is really seeing the effect we are leaving on these children’s lives. The volunteers visited one of our student’s houses. Most of our students live in really underprivileged circumstances, yet they are so grateful. They told me that the father went on and on and on about how blessed he felt, how grateful he was that his son had the opportunity to study. It gave the volunteers an experience that is similar to mine.
Last year I was the 9th grade homeroom teacher. At the end of every unit, we have a meeting with the parents or guardians of our students to show them their grades. At Esperanza Juvenil, there are internals and externals—meaning that half of our students come from the city and live with their families and the other half come from villages around Guatemala and live in houses near by our school.
At the end of the year, the parents from the different villages were present for the meeting with me. I was extremely nervous to have these meetings with the parents mostly because of my lack of Spanish, but also because I didn’t want them complaining or asking me questions I couldn’t answer regarding their child. What came to my surprise was that the meetings were the complete opposite of that. The parents wouldn’t stop thanking me. They are so grateful for the opportunity their children are living. I had heard that many of the parents can’t read or write, but it didn’t really hit me until I lived and saw that their parents couldn’t even write their names on the sign in sheet. My students had to take the pen and write it for them. This is all something that is new to me, and I’m sure to all of you that are reading this right now. But that is the reality my students are living, and many more people around the world with lack of education.
The volunteers were able to experience this and they’ll be able to keep that memory with them forever. One girl mentioned to me that her visit to the student’s house is something she will never forget. All of the volunteers here are currently making memories of a lifetime.
My job is rewarding, but that reward doesn’t come without a lot of pain, sacrifice and work. Sharing my experience with the volunteers today has reminded me of my first volunteer experience abroad in Belize.
I went to Belize in 2013 on a mission trip with my church. We visited a village, Orange Walk City, helped with building a patio at the entrance of their church, added screens to family’s houses, played soccer with the children, bonded with the community and shared special moments of prayer and praise.
One of the coolest ways to travel is to go on a mission trip. I’ve been on many mission trips in the U.S. and the one in Belize and I’m currently doing mission work at my school. There are many benefits and things that you learn from missioning abroad, here are some of the things I’ve learned:
You really get to experience the life of a local.
Whether it be in a very impoverished area where necessity is needed, or in an area that has a lot of help already, but you’re sharing your time with the people, you really do engulf yourself into the culture.
Every day in Belize we walked into the town and bought pan dulce and soda. It was something very normal for the locals and we enjoyed trying different bread types.
You see life in a different perspective.
You aren’t surrounded by the things you’ve seen and grown up with. You’re surrounded by people who live life differently, and you notice the slightest things like the way people greet each other.
I remember that playing soccer with the children in Belize was the best hour of my life. Playing soccer is their entertainment and the entire community gets involved.
You gain an open mind.
Open minded people are more flexible and able to adapt to change much easier than close minded people. You don’t only think about yourself, you begin thinking about other’s in the world. That’s something that God is always wanting us to do, think of other’s first.
When I find myself complaining about not having “anything to wear,” I remind myself that I need to be thankful for the clothes I have because I know that there are people that wear the same things daily. I have a deeper understanding of the world.
These are just a few things I’ve learned and reflected on since working abroad and doing mission work. Really, I just want to encourage everyone (if you have the chance) to try mission work abroad. Especially if you have the travel bug (like me!!!) You’ll be able to see a different part of the world while changing people’s lives (and your life as well). There are many people out there in the world that are in need of love. Get ready to see the world!