Unbound staff member Amanda Burian recently went on an awareness trip to Guatemala along with her mother and grandmother. All three shared short reflections on their experiences.
Amanda: Daughter of Sandy, granddaughter of Mary Ellen (“Baga”)
I was fortunate enough to be able to travel with my mom and Baga (a name I affectionately gave my grandma at a young age) on the Unbound Awareness Trip to Guatemala. We were anxious and excited, not entirely knowing what to expect. I know I can speak for all three of us when I say the trip was all that we could have hoped for and more. The people we met and our experiences made an impact on us that will always be remembered.
The most memorable of these experiences for me was the day I met my sponsored friend, Magaly.
We spent the day together playing games, eating lunch, dancing and talking a bit. I enjoyed our conversation through words, but it was nothing compared to the smiles we shared.
I’ll never forget the way she peeked up at me every now and then with those big brown eyes, the way she slipped her hand in mine without hesitation and slowly scooted her chair closer and closer to me. She gently touched my fingernails and the skin on my arm, as if to see if they felt the same as her own. And they did.
These small, simple moments of the trip filled my heart with love and gratitude and taught me many lessons. The most important of my takeaways is to always choose love.
Through sponsorship, I choose to love a little girl named Magaly from Guatemala. She is 8 years old, loves bunnies, the color red and the doll I gave her. Oh, and she told me she loves me, too.
It’s always been clear that sponsorship would change Magaly’s life for the better. Now it’s clear that it has also changed mine.
Sandy: Mom of Amanda, daughter of Mary Ellen
Spending a week in Guatemala was a life-changing experience for me that started with great apprehension and out-of-my-comfort-zone unease. The week ended with a deep appreciation and fondness for the people I met.
Make no mistake about it, Unbound sponsorship changes lives. I was surprised that it was my life that changed.
On my visit, I got to meet my sponsored friends Rudy, 16, and Christian, 8, as well as their mothers. It’s true I brought gifts for them, but these were nothing compared to the gift these encounters brought to me.
Language and cultural differences quickly melted away with a shared smile and hearts full of gratitude and love. I’m still not sure who is more grateful for the other — me or my sponsored friends — but I do know that I am forever blessed because of them.
Love was visible, palpable and electric the whole week as families welcomed us into their homes and lives. As sponsors, we were treated like royalty, celebrated as rock stars and thanked over and over for what we do by bringing hope to their families. And again, if this $1 a day brings hope and change to Guatemalan children and families, nothing compares to what giving it brings to me.
Mary Ellen: Mom of Sandy, grandmother (“Baga”) of Amanda
When my granddaughter asked me to accompany her on an awareness trip, I was both grateful and apprehensive. What grandma wouldn’t be flattered when their granddaughter wants to spend a week together? I would go anywhere. With a little convincing, my daughter also decided to join us. Three generations sponsoring children through Unbound. Wonderful!
I have been sponsoring Marvin for about four years. I didn’t know how in the world I would communicate with him and his family. What would we talk about? Asking question after question seemed intrusive.
Although we had an interpreter at the table, I found that communication without words was easy. From the moment Marvin greeted me with a hug and a smile that melted my heart, I knew that this is where I was meant to be. We danced, played a little soccer, hugged some more, prayed together and ate together.
I am indeed blessed by this experience, more than Marvin and his family will ever know.
Do you have any experiences from your awareness trip you’d like to share? Share your thoughts in the comments below.