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I never know what has gotten through. Just over a month ago, I returned from a mission trip to the village of Chioya, Guatemala, where we spent a week building ventilated stoves for many of the homes in the community. The experience was enriching and exciting for me and has influenced my thoughts and actions since I returned. I have shared my experience and pictures with my coworkers, family and whoever will listen but I know I cannot convey the full richness of the experience to them. One of my many goals since coming home was to work to inspire others to reach out and find ways they could help. I make my best efforts to talk about how easy it is to help and how far it goes in these villages, but I never know what has gotten through. Thankfully my enthusiasm got through to someone.
My family was a big part of my trip to Guatemala. I tried to include them in all aspects of the journey. Prior to going on the trip, my four kids, ages eight, six, five and three, had dozens of questions about why I was going, what the village was going to be like, how exactly I was going to help and why in the world I thought I could build a stove. Frankly, I had the same questions myself. When I got to Chioya the family picture I brought helped me connect with the families we visited. I was able to Skype with my kids most days and updated them on what I saw that day. Like many of my conversations with them, I was never really certain what, if anything was getting through.
I could not have been more pleased earlier this month when my five-year-old daughter Hope, decided that for her birthday, she “wanted to help the kids in Guatemala.” Instead of presents she asked her friends to bring donations. Her goal was to raise enough to buy a stove for a home. She raised $150 and hit her goal. I was very proud that she not only chose this path but didn’t seem to regret forgoing new toys or clothes. She was visibly pleased when we talked about how this gift may allow as many as eight or ten kids the chance to breathe cleaner air and avoid becoming sick.
I’m not sure how the exposure to the service trip will affect Hope in the long term. It may turn out to be a one-time endeavor or a continued effort to raise money for those in need. Regardless, it makes me realize that what I say and do to encourage others to participate will not always cause them to act but the fact that it occasionally does is enough.
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