We are just over one week back from a great trip to Guatemala. For me, and I think everyone in our group, the trip was a powerful experience. It was a great opportunity to see a new culture and people, to serve there in some small way, and develop relationships within our group.
Now that we have been back to our normal lives for a week, I wanted to note a few thoughts I had,
1)We had a really nice trip
2)Going back to normal life happens quickly
3)The relationships last
By all measures, the trip was a great success. It was well planned and organized, travel was safe and seamless in both directions and while in Guatemala, the work was meaningful and helpful, the weather was beautiful and we all returned home safely. While not without challenge or frustration, the group stuck together and we were able to have lots of fun and spend meaningful time together and make many new friends.
Back to normal life
I had intended to write this on Saturday since we returned to the church very late on Saturday night. I never found the time to sit down and get it done so I figured Sunday should work. I am glad I waited because walking through church on Sunday was very different from the week before. Last week, immediately after our return, my mind was full of excitement from our trip. We each were give two minutes and a topic to share with the congregation at the 9:30 and 10:45 services. It seemed impossible to pick where to start. Collin had challenged us to Journal for two weeks before the trip started and during the week in Guatemala. I do not journal regularly but was excited about the idea. I had only made two entries leading up to the trip but had logged some decent information for the days we were there. The Sunday we presented at church my mind was so full of excitement I was looking forward to some quiet time/ journaling that afternoon to sort out everything running through my head. After one week at home, I had been swept up in the busyness of work and home but never did take the time to reflect on the trip in any substantive way. Such a powerful experience was quickly overtaken by the busyness of life and its many distractions. What I find particularly ironic is that while we were there many of the people we met had so much less in terms of material things and conveniences and yet they seemed to operate at a much slower pace with a focus on relationships and were very happy. This had me questioning some of the tradeoffs of our lifestyles and wondering what I could change in my life to live in a more contented way.
For me, after one week at home life was competing with the experience in Guatemala for attention and it was a little surprising how quickly I came down from that mountain top experience. This was also apparent to me at church this morning. I did not go upstairs to the youth room so I missed the picture of the completed wall we had started. I understand this was completed during the week and it was shared with Collin. As I walked through the hallway between services, I saw a few fellow work campers but this week we were not wearing the matching shirts and not everyone was even present. It is all too easy to return to our normal lives and the power of the experiences sometimes fades more quickly than you would think, but one thing that has some staying power is the relationship with the people in our group. When I walk down the hallway and I see someone from that trip, they stand out to me because we have shared a special experience that is not found in many places. As a youth, I went to many work camps with our church and as I walk through the church on any given Sunday I know those people differently. Last Sunday as we were sharing our stories from this trip as I looked into the congregation I was counting people who I had been with on work camps in the past. These relationships are truly special and hard to come by without an immersive experience like a work camp. It was amazing to travel to Guatemala, meet, and help those people. I would like to thank everyone from our church who supported our group in various ways to make this trip possible. I would encourage anyone who is able to sign-up for the next trip whether with youth or adults, domestic or international, to serve the Lord and others and be blessed to be a blessing.
-- Chad Patterson