Wednesday, February 19, 2020

McCracken's Beach Day: A day of Connection & Reflection

I’ve been trying to come up with what I should say to sum up the day and I’ve come to the conclusion that words can’t do it justice, but I’ll try. Today we traveled to the beach to get to know some kids from the orphanage and soak up some sun. I knew it would be fun, but I didn’t expect it to feel so bitter sweet. I met the sweetest 11 year old little girl named Jessica. Although Jessica and I couldn’t speak the same language, our laughs and long hugs had no barrier. We played Marco/Polo, tag, and hopped ocean waves. For a while, I thought of her as equal to me, with the same type of childhood I had after we played those games. Then, after thinking more deeply into it, I remembered how she is growing up no where near how I did. She lives in a third world country, has no parents that she can call her own, and doesn’t know what life after she turns 18 is going to look like for her. When we had to say goodbye, I held her for what probably felt like an eternity to her, but I couldn’t let go. I smiled at her with tears in my eyes and told her I loved her. That’s all that I could do, and I wanted so badly to be able to do more. ~ Emma Kate Schaaf

Today was the coveted beach day. All of us were excited to relax after a hard weeks work and get that tan we all have been wanting. We met an orphanage at the beach, and this orphanage touched me a little differently than the others have. Most of the children in this orphanage were 18 or close to it, so they were a better reflection of how our lives would be in El Salvador. I met two 18 year olds named Francisco and Alex. They knew that there was a massive language barrier in between all of us, but they didn’t seem to mind. The ability for us all to sit down and laugh and make handshakes even though I’m sure my attempts at Spanish made no sense to them. This is just a reflection of how small efforts mean so much to all of our lives. The conversations I had with them were short and my Spanish language was equivalent to a kindergartener, they still made sure to come up and hug me before they left. This was also a day for our group to sit back and reflect after becoming so close through all of our missions. I never realized how two of the people I spent the most time with this week were people I had barely talked to prior to the trip. Service is a way not only to help others, but to also make connections that will last forever. The kids from the orphanage will stay with me through the rest of my life, and the friendships I have made with kids from my school will endure after this week. It was a great way to end a magical week. ~ Morgan Guess

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