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May 24, 2016

Reflections on my Trip to Guatemala

By Lareka Knox, Director of Family Services

Often, stories about mission trips focus on the physical aspects of the trip, like the work that the team did. Having recently returned from my second Global Village trip to Guatemala, I’d like to instead share how the trip affected me and why it was truly a life-changing experience.

Last year, during my first trip to Guatemala, I experienced first shock, then sadness, then even anger that people actually lived in such poverty. Because of this, I wasn’t able to fully engage in the experience. This time, while the pervasive poverty was still heartbreaking, it instead made me feel determined and resolved to do more. This transformation, in turn, gave me the space to be present, live in the moment, and absorb everything the Guatemalan culture had to offer.

Similarly, I returned with renewed appreciation for all my many blessings. Some Guatemalans do not have things we just take for granted, like hot water and indoor plumbing, and the trip served as a reminder to be grateful for all the advantages I have been given.

The trip also pushed me beyond my comfort zone and made me realize that I am stronger, both physically and mentally, than I ever imagined. In this, the Guatemalan people set a powerful example; they persevere despite adversity. So not only did I help build latrines, carry cement blocks up a steep hill, and dig trenches, I faced and overcame a personal health crisis that arose on the trip.

Finally, I have built lasting relationships that span geographic, economic, social, and cultural borders. In fact, since my return, I have been in communication with the family with whom we worked during the trip. Through social media, she said, “The doors to the house are always open for all of you. May God bless you.”

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