Orfanato Valle De Los Angeles, Guatemala
During our closing prayer service at Valley of the Angels in Guatemala City, Guatemala, we prayed that God would encircle our minds and hearts with his peace and help us to follow the path he has set out for us, wherever it may lead. This sentence from our departing prayer brought me full circle to the moment I chose to apply for this Service Immersion Trip. When I made the decision to travel about 3,200 miles to an unfamiliar place, I felt a sense of calmness. I also had profound trust in my faith and what God had in store for me.
At the beginning of my trip at Valley of the Angels, my faith was shaken and, out of fear, I questioned whether I had the ability to serve the amazing people there. This fear was quickly erased as I began to interact with the staff and the children. All the staff welcomed our group with open arms and showed us an abundance of gratitude for our ministry of presence. The children instantly showed love and affection. The Franciscan ideals and charism that are carried out at Valley of the Angels also made me feel at home.
In the mornings, we undertook hands-on service while the children were in class, like: bagging food for each child to take home on break, delivering food to families affiliated with Manos Amigas, and preparing vegetables in the kitchen. However, my favorite time spent was with the children in the afternoons. Through my interactions with the children, I was reminded that presence is the greatest gift one person can offer another. The joy I experienced while playing hide-and-seek, tag, UNO, and many other games is difficult to put into words. It truly was a blessing to spend time with the children at Valley of the Angels.
As Fr. Greg Boyle stated, “We imagine, with God, this circle of compassion. Then we imagine no one standing outside of that circle, moving ourselves closer to the margins so that the margins themselves will be erased.” Thanks to this Service Immersion Trip, Neumann University’s Campus Ministry, and the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, I had the opportunity to meet wonderful and loving people at Valley of the Angels. From this experience, I was able to imagine a larger circle and smaller margins. The people I met in Guatemala, their way of life, and their culture impacted me in more positive ways than I could have ever expected. I hope to take everything I gained from this eye-opening experience there and apply it now at home.