In just four short months, myself and four other Neumann students will be boarding a plane headed to Central America to begin our journey in serving the children at the Valley of Angels orphanage located in San Jose El Manzano, Guatemala as part of a service immersion trip through the San Damiano Program here at Neumann. In this week’s reading of Jeremiah 17:5-8, a specific line stood out to me. “Cursed is the one who trusts in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh, whose heart turns away from the LORD.” After reading this it made me think about why I do service. I do service because that is what God put me on this earth to do. My sole purpose in this life is to go out and make a difference in the lives of the underprivileged. The idea that “cursed is the one whose heart turns away from the LORD” really resonated with me because by doing service I believe your heart turns towards the Lord. By doing service you are able to build and strengthen your relationship with God and help to impact and better the lives of those in need.
I first applied to go on the Guatemala Service Trip back in the fall of my Freshmen year, and unfortunately was not picked to go. When I learned that Neumann would be going back to Guatemala again this year, I knew this was my time to go. I felt compelled and like I was being called to Guatemala for an unknown reason. When I received the email congratulating me on being picked to serve over the summer in Guatemala, I broke down and cried, because there was nothing more that I wanted in life at that moment. The fact that I am an education major had a big influence on why I was so adamant about traveling to Guatemala. I am extremely interested in seeing how they focus on education and how their school differs from one you would find in America. But most importantly, as a future educator, it doesn’t matter how many multiplication facts my future students will learn, or how many sight words they can identify, or if they know the different stages of the water cycle, what matters most to me is the impact that I as a teacher make on their lives, and if that is all I accomplish as a teacher, I will know I fulfilled God's plan for me. That goes the same for when I go to Guatemala. I will only be there for eight days, but if I can make an impact on the lives of the children, I will come across in those few days, then that is all that matters. I am very excited to be able to travel to Guatemala and give back to those who need our help the most. I am going to Guatemala in hopes to grow closer in my relationship with God and to help make an impact in the daily lives of the children living at the Valley of Angels orphanage. I may only get eight days to spend in Guatemala, but I know the children’s gratitude will last a life time. Throughout my time spent participating in the San Damiano Program we focused a lot on St. Francis of Assisi and how he heard God calling him to “rebuild his church” and while we will be helping to physically rebuild, we will also be bringing with us to Guatemala our faith and the opportunities to help rebuild those whose hearts may have turned away from the Lord.