My first trip consisting solely of high school students has ended and all minors have been safely reunited with their parents. Phew! Honestly, I was a little nervous about this trip. The children that we work with mean so much to me and it’s important that people on the team ‘get it’ by the end of the week. And I was nervous that instead of taking the time to understand and process poverty, abandonment and why children live on the streets, they would be concerned with strange foods, skinny dogs and lumpy beds.
Sometimes it’s so good to be wrong.
Top three moments I was so thankful for this team.
Moment #1 – We spent the first three days digging the foundation of a house for a family of 4 (or 8, depending on who you ask). Digging/pick axing = very hard labor. And to top it all off, there was a gigantic boulder right where we needed to dig in the back corner of the house. All I could think was “If the plans for the house had been shifted a mere 6 inches, this would not be a problem.” But a problem it was. We tried lifting it. (Bad idea.) We considered breaking it apart bit by bit with a mallet and a pick axe. (I think each of us took one swing at it and our vibrating hands made it clear that this was not going to work either.) On day three, someone decided that we needed to dig a hole deep enough to roll the rock into and then bury it. Ding, ding, ding!!! The most amazing thing was that Emma and Jojo (two girls who, on day one, said that this rock wouldn’t be a problem and they could get it hardee har, har, har) were the ones who rolled it in. I was impressed by their work ethic and tenacity to solve this seemingly impossible problem. Aaaaand, I was happy that I didn’t have to be the one to deal with that rock.
Moment #2 – I’m kicking myself for not having a better picture than this one. Ana Luisa was the youngest of the family that was building the house. As her sisters helped us work, she would play with anyone available. Over the course of our days there, she formed a tight bond with Kasia. Throughout the day, we’d hear her adorable squeals of laughter as they raced around the campsite playing tag. Then the day came to say our final goodbyes. Oh my, did Ana Luisa sob. Which made Kasia cry. Which made everyone who could see it suddenly feel the need to blink back tears. Her emotion was so raw as she appealed to her mom to help her understand why Kasia couldn’t stay. This is one little girl who will remain in Kasia’s heart for quite some time.
Moment #3 – There’s something about seeing people walk away hand in hand that gets me every time. On our last day, we brought 11 of the boys with us to Pulhapanzak. Pulhapanzak is a gorgeous waterfall near Lake Yojoa. One of the attractions is that you can pay a guide to take you into the falls, which is an exhilarating and terrifying experience as hundreds (maybe thousands) of gallons of water is poured on your head. The entire time, you’re thinking “this would never be legal in the States…” We quickly decided that the waterfall was way too intense for any of the boys but we all got as close as we could to feel the spray. As we were walking back up, I noticed that Lisandro had slipped his hands into Simon’s and Emma’s as we trekked up the steps. It’s these little moments of just quietly enjoying being together that I love so very much.
And I’m so grateful to the people who choose to spend their vacation making these moments possible.
Same time next year Desert Vista High?