Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Finding the Miraculous in Everyday Life - Guatemala

Our "First Family" in Santa Maria de Jesus
I have been in Guatemala since February 15.  We do at least one service trip a year with a remarkable organization - From Houses to Homes.  If you have never done a service trip, I highly recommend it.  It is the best experience for  so many reasons - and I promise that you will come back more rejuvenated than if you spent a week on the beach!

The family we built for this time in Ciudad Vieja

On our first two trips - in February and May of 2010, we built homes for two different families.  The construction process is always the same - on day one, you dig and pour the foundation and several rows of cinder block bricks.  Each day you add 4 - 5 more rows of bricks, and then on Day 5, you install the door, window, roof, paint the inside and outside, and hand your family the keys to their new house.  
Our "second family" from San Antonio des Aguas Calientes

The bonds made with the families we build for, the other volunteers, and the staff of From Houses to Homes are heartwarming, loving and uplifting.
From Houses to Homes Workers and Staff

They are so grateful - their lives are immediately changed by our work.  And in turn, they give us the experience to feel our innate goodness.  It's a win win both ways, but I always feel that we receive the best end of the bargain.

After all,

how often do we have the opportunity to have a direct positive impact on the poorest of the poor?

How often do we have the opportunity to feel like our lives have transcendent meaning? 

How often do we get a glimpse at how indigenous populations live and get to peek into their culture?

Most of all, these trips are reminders to me and my family that material possessions are not what make us happy.  We know lots of comfortable people who don't have the joy, easy smiles, love of community and family, and lightheartedness that this community has. 

And of course, there is all the color and texture, the tapestries and architecture and the slow pace of life that get me every time. 

A glimpse inside an open doorway yields a colorful surprise!
Some of the beautiful students at Escuela Kimna'oj
The church in Ciudad Vieja was built in 1534!
Bath day!
As I sit in the airport waiting for our flight home, my heart and mind are already planning our next trip back!  Hasta la proxima ves mes amigos en Guatemala. 

Your comments make me so happy and let me know you were here. I read and treasure every comment and will happily answer any questions as soon as I can.

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  1. Thanks for sharing Jessica. Theresa x

  2. Beautiful photos Jessica, I am sure it was a great time!

  3. Wonderful experience and I know your new friends are grateful.

  4. Jessica, you and your family are so inspiring. What a beautiful thing to do, and what a great way to bring up your children too. Thank you for sharing!

  5. You and your family's spirit just is tremendous. You explained from your heart, this trip and I can feel how wonderful it is for you and the families you are helping. You both are so blessed. I have no other words.. just so comforting.

  6. Yes, blessings abound for both the givers and the receivers, what a wonderful thing to do. I've never participated on a mission trip, but it is on my list of things to do. And yes, such a wonderful thing to share with your daughter, it will influence her whole life. God bless you!

  7. This truly is one of your most beautiful and heart warming posts Jessica. I see as much joy in your face as I do in those of the families. If I could afford it I wouldn't hesitate to give in this way. It must be such a moving experience. Thank you for sharing, and welcome back!

  8. Amazing Jessica! thank you so much for sharing your adventures and stories with us- a very inspiring family you have!

  9. Thanks for sharing! I was in Guatemala last year with a team and loved every minute of it, even the hard work! Your pictures brought tears to my eyes as the memories came flooding back. I think maybe next year I will have to plan to go back.

  10. Wonderful pics! Thanks for sharing about your trip. What a loving and giving thing you and your family do for the people in Guatemala!

  11. Thanks for sharing your service trip with us, Jessica. I can see where it would be extremely rewarding to you. My son has been on similar house building/rebuilding missions to the Gulf coast after Katrina. Helping others always makes an impact on us.

  12. I have only helped build a house for a poor person once with Habitat for Humanity. Yes, it was a very enriching experience and I would like to do it again. Thank you for sharing the beautiful pictures of the happy people of Guatemala. They remind me of Filipinos who smile in the midst of hardship!


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