Day 1: Made it from the North to the Central Americas!

Today was day 1 of our spring break. We landed! When I first stepped out of the airport I took a minute to look at everything around me. Some of it seemed different, but some seemed the same. Something that was a bit different was when little children came up to me and asked me to buy things from them. We had a long drive from the airport to the hotel. One of my favorite parts of the bus ride was getting that homemade lunch. YUMMY! I enjoyed the breeze and bumpy ride to the hotel. After a few hours we finally got to the hotel! The hotel was beautiful, it had a beautiful lawn, and little patios in front of every room. Later that day we got ready and went out for dinner. This is when we passed by the bazaar and were able to actually see the different culture and different ways of how things were done. It was a lot different from the area that I grew up in and lived in. I think the only thing that was a bit surprising to me was seeing all the young little children working with their families. Overall my first day and first impression of Guatemala was beyond amazing. Before going to bed I remember telling myself I cannot wait for the next several days here. Question: What makes a country different from one another?

Day 2: Wake up and Smell the Coffee!

We made it to day 2! Today was probably one of my favorite days! Check out that lakes view. We did a lot today. We went on the most amazing boat ride (I think I really enjoyed it because it had been a while since I was on a boat). The view was just so amazing and relaxing. I was able to go and sit in the front of the boat. I just laid there and enjoyed the sun. The main part of today's day included going to the famous coffee plantation. On our way to the coffee plantation we stopped at a few places such as the church. We learned quite a few historical details about the church. We also learned about the site itself. At last we made it to the coffee plantation. When we got here we met some wonderful people who were able to tell us all about the coffee and how it came about. The man who was telling us about the coffee plantation did not know English so because of that we needed a translator. Guadalupe was amazing enough to help us understand everything he wanted us to know. I think that's one of the cultural differences that you have when you go from our mostly speaking English country to a country where they only mostly speak Spanish. But I think getting that experience was wonderful because it definitely made you want to listen more and it helped understand everything better. I think for me just learning all about the coffee plantation and seeing how hard people work was the most unexpected and surprising thing. I think that's because we live in a country where everything is pretty much handed to us. Of course we work hard to but when you compare to people who are working in the fields then I feel like our work doesn't seem much. For the rest of the day we enjoyed walking all through the coffee field and learned about numerous of Guatemala's facts. By the end of our coffee tour we had lunch and all enjoyed a cup of coffee. Question: What is something you would like to learn about the coffee plantation?

Day 3: Fly High!

I don't even know where to start from. Today was probably one of the most epic days of my life. First we went to a butterfly garden! It was filled with hundreds of different kinds of butterflies. Such a different experience, that doesn't happen everyday. Next we went zip lining. I never thought that I would be able to do something like this. Growing up my mom never really allowed me to do anything that was let's just say dangerous. It was always that fear of somethings going to happen, but I thought that you know what I need to try this so as you can see I did. I was very nervous but I made it and I made it all the way till the end. As a visitor in this country everything looks so different from the top literally! Being thousands of feet high in the sky really makes you look down and say wow it's incredible. The view, the people, and the life. I think something that was a little unexpected was the number of times that we were going to zip line over until we got to the bottom. I think one of my favorite parts of today was also our tour guy. We had a long hike up the hill and we had a man with us we didn't know English, but that did not stop him from making us have fun and talk to us while making our trip up. I think just seeing the effort that some people put in, in making others have a nice time in a different country is incredible. Question: Would you want to go zip lining?

Day 4: Let's Get to Work!

Today was our first day in the village. Everything was so different from the past couple days. This is when I felt like we have to make a change. This is what we came here to do, help those people who need us the most. Today we are going to build stoves for the women, the children, and the people of the village. When we first got there we saw all the women and children gather around us. They wanted to say something to us and they wanted to give us something. Their words touched our hearts to the point where tears were rolling down. It's not always about taking things from others but it's about giving to those who don't have much to give back. To be honest their words meant so much that it felt like they gave us the world. They showed us so much respect and allowed us to be a part of them. For me that is something that I might not ever be able to forget and honestly I would not ever want to forget. They made me really think about my own life and learn to appreciate it so much more. As a gift for us they gave us these beautiful flowers. To some people that might not mean a lot, but to me standing there in that moment those flowers were worth more than a million dollars. It was so different seeing the culture and the way they lived. Despite the fact that they didn't have much they still didn't complain and to do that a person needs to have a really big heart. That they showed us by the words that they gave us. As a visitor my experience was different of course. It was not a bad difference but it was a good difference, that allowed me to learn from others and to give back. It gave me the chance to be open and understanding towards others. As the day went by we built the first couple layers of the stove. We got so into it that we did not want to stop, because we knew what we were doing it for and who we were doing it for. We wanted to see the smiles on those women's and children's faces. I think for me the most difficult part was seeing the way that the people especially the children lived. They didn't have comfortable beds like we do they didn't have all the necessary things to survive like we do yet they still smiled. For me that was just amazing and when the woman hugged us and thanked us it felt so good. Question: What would you want to ask the people of the village?

Day 5: Done Deal and Off to Celebrate!

Today was the day when we were supposed to complete our stoves that we built for the families. We did finish for the most part, but there was still some things that were left over that the Masson's were going to come the next day and finish up with. I saw the smile on the face of the woman who's home we built the stove in and she was just beyond happy. She told one of the translators to tell us that she is very grateful for what we have done and now she will be able to cook for her children and not have to have smoke come into her eyes. Those words were just so touching that they got me so emotional. It's not every day that you hear someone thank you like that and you know that it came straight from the heart. Later that night we went for a fire ceremony. This was something I had never seen before, but I was willing to participate and learn. I'm a big believer in learning about others cultures and religion. In the USA we don't always get the time or the people who are willing to teach us about others cultures. So when I was given this opportunity I did not want to pass it. I wanted to participate in everything because it felt like the right thing for me to do. I didn't have to believe in everything, but at that moment being a part of it for me was a lot more important then just believing in it. A lot of the things that were happening that night were unexpected and surprising. It's not something that you hear or see you have every day. The ceremony was all about thanking God for every single thing that is on this earth and in the heavens. If reminded me of my own religion because we also thank God for everything and we know that without him there would be nothing including us. I really like how I was able to compare that. I like that each one of us were able to go up and throw sand into the fire and really be a part of it. I really didn't know how else to be thankful for this amazing experience. It really did bring joy and tears into my eyes. I'm just so thankful I was able to take the chance and thank God for everything. Question: What are you thankful for?

Day 6: Let Me Check You Out!

As a nursing student today was my favorite day. Today was when we set up our clinical camp which included checking height and weight, blood pressure's, blood glucose, eye exams and much more. All of the people of the Village gathered around us so they can get checked out and make sure that they were healthy. This was something different and new for them so we wanted to do everything that we could to make them feel comfortable. We also worked with some of the midwives and became like teachers to them, because we showed them how to do some of the things that we already know. Seeing them learn so quickly made me so happy and excited. Today was one of the days when I really saw a cultural difference from how I live and from how they live. I saw how they really got into everything that we were doing and they were really willing to learn and understand. They really appreciated us and trusted us. Trust is something that's really hard to come about, but them trusting us made us feel comfortable and give them the best care. One of the things that really impacted me on this day was when one of the women came up to me and asked me several questions and I was able to answer her with the little Spanish that I knew and she took the time to understand me. I think that was really incredible for me, because patience is not something that as Americans we have a lot of. Today's day just flew by and honestly it was so great that we did not want it to end. We ended the day by having some of our classmates present a sugar shock test. It was really fun we all laughed and we all learned. That's what mattered the most at the end. Question: Do you know how bad too much sugar can be for your body?

Day 7: Capture Every Smile

Today was our last day in the village. We started the day by going to the school and finishing up doing eye exams on the children. Later we did a fun game with the children. We had the children put glow hand sanitizers on their hands and go wash them. We then put a light on their hands to see how properly they wash their hands. If through the light we could still see the spots then we knew that they did not wash their hands properly. Some of them did and some of them did not. When they were done that they came down and got a sticker. After the sticker they got a picture of themselves. This was my favorite part because I was able to take a picture of each of them with my Polaroid camera and then give it to them to keep. It felt so nice to me because I knew that some of them had never even seen themselves and seeing the smiles on their faces just made me so happy. I never knew that something so small like getting a picture of yourself could mean so much. That is something that will always when I think about bring a smile on my face. When I compare the children from Guatemala to the children in America I see a hung difference. Many of us are blessed with a lot of things and things like a picture don't really matter to us, because we have cameras and we have mirrors and we have tons of ways to look at ourselves. These children they don't have much and just getting that picture of themselves made them so happy. Later that day before leaving we got a little surprise. It was something very different for me that the woman brought their clothes and had all of us dress up in their clothes. This was amazing because nobody would go and bring their clothes and have someone else try them on and be happy about it. But they trusted us and they wanted us to be a part of them and that is why they dressed us up. We all felt so beautiful and so blessed to be in environment where there was no judgment and no one to criticize you. Lastly they thanked us again and brought tears to our eyes. They gave us flowers and said that we are welcomed here anytime and that they could not appreciate us more. Many of them stated that they don't have words for what we have done and honestly when I think about it I feel like I still haven't done much. That is why I really hope to come back in the future and help these people again and make a difference and change things even if it's just something small. Question: Would you want to dress up in someone else's cultural clothes?

Day 8: Antigua are you Even Real?

We spent our last two days in a beautiful city called Antigua. These were the days when we were allowed to go out on our own and just explore the city, culture, food, and people. First when we arrived in Antigua we came to the hotel. This was the most beautiful hotel that I ever stayed at. It was way different from the past couple of places that we stayed at, because it was a lot more developed and modernized. I really enjoyed taking the time to walk around, talking to people, and shopping for my friends and families back home. Antigua had some beautiful places such as parks, restaurants, and shopping places. As a visitor I really liked how friendly everyone was and open to talking and listening to one another. I am glad that we were able to go to such beautiful places, explore and make a difference even if it was small. Question: Would you go to Guatemala?
Good Bye Guatemala. You stole a part of my heart, forever and always. <3

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