By Cassie Wright
Wow … we just got back from our mission awareness trip to Guatemala a couple of days ago. (ìWeî being my parents, a group of teens and adults from the Church of the Risen Christ parish in Denver, Colo., and myself.) Before we left, I thought about what I wanted to get out of the trip. I really had no idea what to expect, except that we were going to be going to a very poor country, and I wanted to keep an open mind so that I could experience everything to its fullest. In the end, I decided that my goal was to see how different cultures interact with each other, as well as to learn about the culture and people of the country. I had no idea what an eye-opening, educational and wonderful experience this trip would be!
After we arrived in Guatemala City, we drove about three hours to San Lucas Tolim·n. During the drive, it was almost a culture shock going from our air-conditioned houses in Denver, to seeing banks guarded by men with guns in Guatemala City, down to the little shacks that people call home in each of the cities we passed.
The staff at CFCA in San Lucas Tolim·n was extremely friendly and accommodating to our group. They made us feel like one of the family at once. On our first day of work, we took a boat to Santiago Atitl·n, the city where we helped build a house. Walking up the streets of Santiago and looking at all of the stores and homes, I realized just how poverty-stricken the country is. At the same time, I realized how incredibly wealthy the people are through their relationships with their families and with one another. Back at home, itís so easy to get attached to your Blackberry, iPod and other gadgets that you neglect your relationships with the people around you and with your family. One thing that really stood out to me was that everyone was so incredibly happy even though they had little money and next to nothing by ways of physical possessions. What they do have is an exceptionally deep understanding of how their communities work, as well as a connection with the people around them.
When I was packing my suitcase at CFCA in San Lucas Tolim·n, I was truly embarrassed by the amount of physical possessions I had in one suitcase. While packing for the trip, I was fretting about which pair of pants I wanted to sacrifice as work pants. After being at the work site for four days, the pants I wore really did not matter. What did matter is that I spent an invaluable amount of time with my parents.
I also realized that happiness does not depend on the newest electronic device that I just bought. Happiness is strengthening the relationships around me. This trip has really got me thinking about the amount of ìstuffî around my home that I do not need. In the next couple of months, my goal is to purge myself of things that I donít need and donít use. Also, I really want to strengthen my relationships with the people that mean the most to me.