In jessica's words (Runanyway intern)...
For the past three summers I have gone on mission trips to Zacapa, Guatemala. My trips to Guatemala have been incredibly life changing. Our group stayed at a non-profit organization called Hope of Life International. The mission of Hope of Life is to rescue the future generations of Guatemala through the power of Gospel. Carlos Vargas, the founder of the Hope of Life, came to Guatemala in 1987 hoping to live out his finals days in his native land. Carlos was on his deathbed when he promised God he would help the needy and poor in return for his health. The ministry started on one acre of land at the bottom of the mountain aiding the elderly who were abused, abandoned, and homeless. Hope of Life currently spans 3,000 acres serving hundreds of thousands of people each year as they continue working towards their goal of saving lives. Hope of Life has a hospital, elderly home, orphanage, and home for those who are mentally and physically handicapped.
This trip provided me with many opportunities to develop relationships with people who have come from all different circumstances and age groups while helping those in need. The first time I went to Hope of Life I spent a vast amount of time at the orphanage playing with children, specifically one named Esmeralda. At the time she was only six years old. Esmeralda was unlike the other kids as she was reserved and reluctant to engage with our group of American visitors. After forty-five minutes of playing the Spanish version of the movie Frozen’s “Let it Go” and talking to Esmeralda using my restricted Spanish, she agreed to come and play. As a child my grandfather often recited novelist Henry James’ quote, “Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.” These words guided my actions and encouraged me to connect with this little girl whom I knew nothing about. Esmeralda and I are opposites. She speaks Spanish and I speak English. She has no family and I have three siblings and a large extended family. She is reserved and I am an extrovert. She has never left Guatemala and I have traveled the world. She lives in extreme poverty and I live in comfort. Although it seemed like a difficult task, I was able to relate to Esmeralda despite our differences. By the end of two weeks Esmeralda and I developed a strong bond that still exists to this day. Esmeralda’s contrasting lifestyle gave me perspective. She made me realize the power of being open-minded and determined. Even though I was the intimidating American, she decided to trust and welcome me into her life for the short period of time I was going to be there. Anytime I am anxious about trying something new, I think of the time I met Esmeralda and how my emotions transformed from the time I met her until now.
RunAnyway seeks to help Hope of Life and other villages in Guatemala by bringing clothing and stuffed animals.