Final Thoughts by Emily Valdez

“Te amamos con todo el Corazon.” To be loved. Isn’t that what we all want in this life?

My whole life I have looked in so many places–some good, some bad–for love. I’ve looked for comfort and love in having tons of “friends”, in money, and in materialistic things. I have worked so hard the last few years to travel the world and “do my own thing” without my family and without anyone holding my hand. All of these ambitions, all of these things, have always fallen short of what it truly is that I have always desired.

This week that I have spent in El Espino, an impoverished, dangerous, and materialistically-lacking community, has given me more fulfillment than any “thing” ever has. One fact of life that I have so greatly seen and learned is that in poverty there is wealth beyond money and beyond objects. When there is nothing else to give, one is able to know the love that he or she is able to give. The people of this community gave love in such an unconditional way. Their love was so quickly given without boundaries or hesitation. In just a few short days I was fully embraced as a friend, a sister, a daughter, a niece, a cousin, and a granddaughter. I was family and I received all the genuine love that the people of this community express so greatly every single day. It was such a simple and humbling experience, but such a huge opportunity to see life in a different and beautiful way.

As a college student, you don’t see living without running water as a great Spring Break, but it is because we have lost a desire to step back and analyze what truly matters in life and have gotten caught up in the everyday bombardment of technology. In an honest effort for a pure and simple life, we can find the love that is such a desire in each of us. We can allow ourselves to love full-heartedly and in turn be loved without fear. It breaks my heart to know that I could not bring every one of the beautiful, loving, and deserving people of El Espino back to the U.S. with me; but it also scares me to know that I am back in that world that has so many “things” and yet lacks so much. My web of emotions is full of fear, sadness, and most importantly love. I pray to God everyday that these feelings remain in my heart, not because I enjoy them all, but because I know these emotions can make a person do some incredible things.

My fire has been lit, and I know I will go back to El Espino. I know that the people of that community are working hard for better lives and I want to be a part of their efforts!

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