The Best Birthday Present Ever

A little girl hugged me nonstop in San Miguel, Guatemala.

A little girl hugged me nonstop in San Miguel, Guatemala.

For some people, ultimate goals include fancy cars, huge lawns, or nice houses. Some want to visit the beach or go on cruises, but I have some other dreams in mind.


Over fall break, I went on a mission trip to Guatemala, which is something I have been wanting to do for about two years. This was my first trip out of the United States and it definitely will not be my last.


While on this trip, I got to participate in many different activities including installing cement stoves, hosting birthday parties, cooking food for a feeding program, hosting a women’s Bible study, praying over families, and delivering rice to them.


Personally, I think the way I felt was one of the most incredible parts of the trip. As I assisted those in need, I felt a sense of peace within me. As it was described to me by one of the women on the trip, “You know you are doing what God wants you to do when you feel a peace doing it.” I undeniably felt that while helping these people and spreading the love of God as well as the gospel itself.


It was a huge culture shock to see the level of poverty there. People lived in houses made of tin with tin roofs that didn’t even connect to the walls. Their floors were made of dirt or occasionally concrete. Most people cook on fires and concrete stoves are considered a huge blessing.


With families living in such high levels of poverty, the children often feel an obligation to earn money to help out, so it isn’t uncommon for the girls to go into prostitution and for the boys to join gangs. It is absolutely heartbreaking to see.


The trip was of huge importance to me, as it has already changed my life and shaped the way I see the world. I plan to return the first opportunity I get and may potentially do an internship with Clubhouse Guatemala or even move there one day.


It was the most amazing experience of my life, and definitely the best birthday present I have ever had.


As one woman said to me as we left the country, “This is not a goodbye. It’s a ‘see you later’.”