Saturday, March 24, 2018

Day 6: Incredible Friendships

So this past week you have been kept up to date on everything we’ve done, but not on the amazing group of young people doing it. To me, that is just as important so I’m going to describe each of them, as best I can. 

If you don’t care to read these, but want today’s recap, just scroll for a bit, it’s there. 

Naturally, I’ve grown closer to a few people than I have others, so some may not be as detailed. 

Abigail Downs

I don’t know that anyone has a bad thing to say about Abbi. She’s one of the sweetest, most agreeable people I know. She always went with the flow, worked hard, and laughed while doing it, and her laugh is especially sweet. It’s truly a pleasure to be able to know her. She will always hold a special place in my heart. 

Alyssa Yancey

Alyssa is probably one of the more patient-seeming people on this team. The entire time she was just along for the ride and I never heard her complain once. I realize that, at times, I’m not the easiest to put up with, it’s just my personality, so either she likes me as a person or she’s incredibly patient (I like to think it’s both) because she was nice the entire time, even when we we’re close-quarters (which was a pretty considerable amount of time considering the size of our team and bus). She will always hold a special place in my heart. 

Bre’onna Logothetis

I’ve met Bre’onna for the first time in fourth grade when she moved to West Kentucky. I don’t remember much about how she was then, but now, I can attest to the fact that she is one of the most resilient and spiritually strong young women I know. She has a beautiful voice and an even more beautiful heart for worship which made her perfect to lead our worship night. She will always hold a special place in my heart. 

Brianna Higgins

Brianna is, for sure, a sweetheart and a master of her iPhone’s portrait mode. Only God and the NSA know how many pictures she took of everyone and everything, the fewest being of herself. Everyone on this trip could more than easily pick her out of a lineup based on accent alone, as thick as it is, and we all love it. She will always hold a special place in my heart.

Claire Thomas

Claire is, honestly, probably the sweetest girl I know. While Brianna may have the thickest accent, Claire’s is definitely the most endearing. Her voice is just as sweet as she is. She was loving with all of the kids we encountered and with each of us, making sure we all knew just how loved we are by her. While she may be able to horrify you with stories from working at a nursing home, she obviously loves her job which is a testament to how compassionate she is. She will always hold a special place in my heart. 

Eliza Kate Carter

EK is, easily, the most experienced out of any of the students as this is her ninth trip to El Salvador, showing just how passionate her heart for this place is. She may be loud, but she is, for sure, hilarious and can always make me laugh with what she says or just how she says it. Some may see her as controlling but I undoubtedly view her as a natural leader and she definitely proved that quality to be present in her. She will always hold a special place in my heart. 

Emily Strasser 

Emily showed that her love of photography was strong because when there wasn’t manual work to do, she was capturing each moment of this trip. This camera is her signature. With an astonishing amount of talent, she carefully documented as much of this trip as any one person could and obviously loved it the whole time. It is undeniable that everyone on this team appreciates her camera, her incredibly bright smile, and her bubbly personality. She will always hold a special place in my heart. 

Erin Gardner

Erin cracks me up in that she easily points out the peculiarities in things. For example, I have a joke that probably everyone has heard, at least once, that is ridiculously long and she was observant enough to notice that I never vary in how I say every sentence, something that I didn’t even notice myself. Erin was loving to every kid we saw and worked hard at everything we did. She has a great sense of humor and an amazing work ethic. She will always hold a special place in my heart. 

Gabi Quintanilla 

Gabi was one of the few people I’d met before this trip, outside of meetings regarding this trip. She and I had Spanish together and, while I remembered her, she admitted she didn’t realize until a couple days in that she’d had class with any of us, let alone me. Gabi is one of several that you never saw without a smile on her face, and hers is especially bright. She will always hold a special place in my heart. 

Jenna Hackel 

Jenna was a last-minute, but wonderful addition to this team. While she may be the quiet-type at first, we got her talking no issue by the end of this week. As Kayla put it, she’s, “quiet, reserved, and thinks things through carefully before acting.” This is a quality I think everyone should work on and I admire greatly as it is a virtue. She will always hold a special place in my heart. 

Kyle Garner

I wish I had met Kyle much sooner than I got to. It is crazy the number of ways that I’m similar to this kid. He and I, in a short time, got to know each other rather well and grow to be, what I would consider, close friends. He is, undeniably, one of the most upstanding young men I have met in my entire life. He is amazingly strong, spiritually, and is just an all-around, genuinely great person. I look up to him, in several ways, even though we aren’t far apart in age. I look forward to spending time with him in the future. He will always hold a special place in my heart. 

Landon Lindsey

I knew of Landon before this trip but I can’t say that I knew him to any degree. He and I hit it off pretty quick due to our mutual love of Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and many other movies. Landon is headstrong, nerdy, and fun-loving as we all saw this week. And one of the leaders put it, “I can’t tell you the number of times I leaned over to Laura and said, ‘have you ever seen a smile so big?’” He will always hold a special place in my heart. 

Lexie Myers

If you ask any of the translators and project-leaders, Lexie was one of the most hardworking on the team, likely because she gets so into building-day. Lexie was the first girl on this trip, I would say, that I made friends with. That may be attributed almost entirely to the fact that we ended up crammed next to each other on the bus from the airport, but, nonetheless, she and I hit it off pretty well. This is her second trip so after I went to feed the homeless the first time, she knew I would need to talk about it, as it’s an emotional experience, and she made sure I knew she was there. I don’t think she realizes what it meant to me to know I had someone I could open up to this whole week. I don’t know that she’ll ever realize. She will always hold a special place in my heart. 

Maggie Raffety

I knew Maggie pretty well before this trip but, as she told us, this trip showed things that she didn’t even know about herself. Maggie was amazing with all of the kids and was never not laughing, playing, or being climbed on, if the opportunity was present. It was a blessing to get to see her interact with them. She will always hold a special place in my heart. 

Malaysia Bridgett

If you ask literally anyone on this team, they will all tell you that Malaysia is one of, if not the, single sassiest person they have met in their entire life. From what she says to her facial expressions, she is 100% sassy. Tonight, Kurt, director of Sus Hijos, interrupted our team leader, Laura; Malaysia did not hesitate to use his own line against him and asked “who’s talking? Why are you talking?” She will always hold a special place in my heart. 

Olivia Swadley

Olivia was great this week. She has so many stories from so many places because she has been all over the globe in her short life (notably, a five-week trip to Nepal) and every story is incredibly entertaining. She’s funny, she’s strong, she’s hard working, and a pleasure to be around. She will always hold a special place in my heart. 

Sydney Stivers 

Sydney is awesome, she really is. She and I are similar in that we have an array of voices that we use for comedic effect and use a brand of sarcasm, centered around not showing that it’s a joke until someone seems offended. At one point, we even agreed that we’d just insult each other in good fun but would have no reason to be upset because if it’s negative, the we don’t really mean it. She worked hard, played hard, and showed how amazing her heart is through so much that she did this week. She will always hold a special place in my heart. 

Jennifer Frazier

Jennifer is, in a way, the reason this trip exists and we were all able to be so blessed this week. She was the team mom and I don’t know that anyone on this trip doesn’t love her. She kind and loving, but you better be sure you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing because, if not, she’ll let you know. The constant side-comments were much appreciated and she was such a blessing through all of this. She will always hold a special place in my heart. 

Laura Roberts

While Jennifer is the reason the WKCTC trip was originally organized, Laura is the lifeblood of every trip Starfish goes on anywhere in the world. I don’t know that anything would get done without that woman. She’s flexible, sweet, fun-loving, amazing, and so many other things, all in one package. I’ve known her for over a year now, volunteering at Starfish and I’m excited for our future encounters and adventures together. She will always hold a special place in my heart. 

Mrs. Chevene 

Though she may stand only about five feet in height, this woman is a giant. No one speaks as eloquently or motivationally as she does. She is so strong and she lets everyone know it. She is wise and funny, and I know first hand how well she can take a joke. Seeing us next to each other is funny because, not only is she the shortest of everyone here, but I’m the tallest. I look forward to checking in on this lovely lady, so that she can check in on me. She will always hold a special place in my heart. 

Kayla Kibbler

Kayla is a truly remarkable person. She and I have such an interesting and entertaining dynamic. After one conversation, it seems like she can tell you things about you, not only that she would have no way of knowing, but things you don’t recognize about yourself. She has an amazing and corny sense of humor, similar to mine. She can get along with everyone, and she does, and, on top of that, be one of everyone’s favorite people. She gives amazing advice and instructions and is loving the whole time. While I have only known her a short time, she means a great deal to me and I’d do anything for her. She will always hold a special place in my heart. 

Regrettably, I don’t have the time, nor the emotional energy go on about the translators, who mean the world to me, but I would like to mention, specifically Jason, who, in a few short days, has made a great impact on my life. 

I love each and every one of you, more than you will ever understand. You have left an incredible and beautiful mark on my life. I will never forget this week or any of you as this has been the single greatest week of my entire life. I love you guys. 

Alex Parker 

Recap of Day 6:

Today was a great day! We as a team had an amazing time at the beach with the teenage mothers and their babies from San Vincente de Paul. We are so thankful that we were able to take this group to the beach. It did not disappoint. We started the day out with about an hour or so bus ride to the beach from the mission house. (Thankfully we had an AUX cord for the bus) Once we arrived, I knew from the start it was going to be a great day. The beach house was amazing. A backyard was filled with palm trees and a pool. There was also a very nice gazebo with 3 hammocks for all of us to have a turn at relaxing. Also in the backyard was a stone path leading from the house to the beach. The beach was an amazing sight. To the right you could see the mountains on the horizon and to the left was sand and water as far as the eye could see. This beach house was amazing. The group from San Vincente de Paul showed up about 10 minutes after we did and the party immediately started. The pool and ocean were a huge hit. One of the translators, Josué, told me that El Salvador was known as one of the top 10 places in the world to go surfing. The waves were huge and I believe everyone had a blast. Next came lunch. Kurt and Steve showed up in style, chicken and coke in hand. We served a lunch of chicken, an apple, potato chips, a cookie and bread to these girls. After lunch, Mrs. Chevene led us in the pass left or pass right game while she read a story. Then followed by her famous machine game. I was able to pray over the girls after a brief lesson about how God will never leave your side from translator Lily. And right back to the fiesta we went. The pool was instantly full of fun and laughter. Then came the hard part of saying goodbye to the girls and their babies, when it was time for them to leave. It was a blessing to be able to spend a day at the beach house with these girls and their children. We were fortunate enough to give each mother a draw string bag filled with clothes, toys and goody bags for their kids, and some peanut butter crackers to eat. This was one of the greatest feelings to see their faces light up in a smile when we offered them a gift. These girls impacted me in a way I’m not sure how to explain, they were so happy to be receiving a simple gift. After they left we had around 2 hours on the beach to ourselves. We had a huge game of volleyball going on with the translators. And of course this was fun. The last hour or so we spent watching the sun slowly falling from the sky. The El Salvadorian sunset is one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen in my life. With the mountains on the horizon, and the sun falling down right beside them, not much could top that amazing sight. After about 100 sunset photos we loaded up the bus and headed to the pupusaria. A pupusa is a very popular dish in El Salvador that is similar to a quesadilla. We had unlimited pupusas and a lot of fun. Malaysia took one the the greatest shots at Kurt I have ever heard. Kurt was constantly getting onto people for talking and not paying attention to him while he was talking so as Laura was talking to the group when Kurt chimes in with a smart comment and Malaysia immediately says, “Um, who’s talking?” The entire group erupted in laughter and Kurt’s face turned more red than a tomato as he was too embarrassed to say anything else. After our pupusaria visit we had a short ride on the bus back to the mission house. Then came, without a doubt, the hardest part of the trip... saying goodbye to all of the amazing translators who we grew so close to over the week and shared every moment with. One of the worst feelings in the world is having to say goodbye to the people who haven’t left your side. This is my fourth trip to El Salvador with starfish and Sus Hijos and it never gets easier to say goodbye. The hugs came and tears came with them. Some more emotional than others, everyone was upset to see them leave. All in all, we have had an unforgettable and amazing week. Nothing will ever be able to break the bonds we have formed or erase the memories we have made together. Everyone on this trip will forever hold a special place in my heart for the friendships I’ve made. Peace out El Sal

Kyle Garner

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