Recently a group of students and teachers traveled to Guadalajara Mexico on a service learning trip and pilgrimage.
All involved have come back transformed by their experiences. Here is a sample of some student reflections:
Enthusiastic, exciting, worth-while, exhausting, hot, extremely diverse, spiritual, "an emotional roller-coaster", "a whole new world" and full of fun….The people of Mexico welcomed us with warm, open arms. At the end of every single day, we discovered a new message to take with us and place in our daily lives.
I found peace in the heart of service, all of my being put to use in order to serve those who so faithfully serve God. At the feet of those who welcomed us into their home, I saw from a new perspective, and through these changed eyes, I now look ahead to my future. With the light of a newly understood Christ in my heart, the smile of the dusty eyes reflected upon my face and the outlook of the humble servant in my mind, my foot seeks out the next step, and I continue along my journey.
This whole trip was a huge eye opener to me. It helped me discover a new beginning in my life.
The last experience that stood out to me the most was visiting the sick. Just being able to go into the homes of the ill to talk and pray with them was a very powerful and humbling experience. To realize how fortunate we are, and to see how much these people treasured their families and God over material possession was very humbling to me.
As I read and reflect on their experiences I am reminded of the trans-formative power of learning experiences that extend beyond the regular classroom.
Of all the student reflections, the following thoughts from Kim touched me the most when she writes:
Witnessing the face of faith in Mexico sprung forth both peace and compassion in all of us. In our service journey to Jesus Maria, a rural faith-filled community eight hours away from Guadalajara, we were called to visit the homes of the sick. For forty minutes, a small group of us travelled along a desolate dirt road, venturing into enclosed neighborhoods of forlorn brick shelters. We entered into the residence of one in particular that had a tarp for a roof, and a thin sheet of aluminum metal for a door. Inside, its darkly-lit walls were decorated with pictures of Jesus. There was a small bucket of water and an uncovered mattress for furniture. To the corner, there stood a petite elderly woman in her 90s with the most remarkable blue eyes framed by soft wrinkles. She lived by herself. Together, we joined our young, un-cracked hands with her tiny, tanned ones to collectively murmur in the serenity of silent prayer. It was truly the most humbling experience for the heart. The Guadalajara pilgrims of 2011 will remain forever changed, and forever inspired by the inconceivable spirit of these beautiful people.
By joining hands with their sick and lonely brothers and sisters in Mexico they have made the world a better place – and isn’t that a beautiful thing!