Alternative Spring Break 2014

Days 3-4 Reflection by Kendra Wildenberg

Wow, where to begin? It seems impossible to write down a fraction of my experiences from this trip and it is only halfway through. Although there are so many thoughts and memories that I cannot compare, as they are all so uniquely wonderful, there are those that seem to stand out just a bit more.

The very first thing I noticed about El Espino is how beautiful the souls of the people are. They have so little and yet the things that they do have they are more than happy to share with me or simply give to me all together. Beds, food, water, time, endless attention and care; there is no limit to the kindness shown and bestowed upon me.

The second day of the trip my roommate and I met the family we would be staying with and we immediately felt like royalty. (Yes the fact that our toilet is infested with cockroaches and we shower with a bucket of water came as a culture shock, but the love we have received has made each new experience a joyful one.)

The room with the biggest bed was so graciously given to us while five members of the family would share a room so we could have privacy and feel comfortable. Our Mama slaves all day for us: cooking, cleaning, and making hot water for our showers so we don’t yelp and laugh every time we step in it. Our Papa is quite possibly my new favorite person on the planet. He is so quiet and shy yet so happy. Always hugging us and kissing us on the cheek, repeating over and over again that now we have a second family, in El Salvador with them.

This type of genuine love makes my heart ache, but in the best way possible. I’ve noticed that many people in the United States would never be this giving, and sadly we have countless more things and avenues in which to do so. How can I feel so much more love from people I have known for a few days, who can’t understand half of the things that I say? It is truly incredible.

Speaking of the language barrier, I have realized that it is not much of a barrier at all. My older brothers in El Espino both speak some broken English but my sister and two younger brothers, along with my parents do not speak it at all. My roommate doesn’t know any Spanish and I rely on my very limited knowledge to piece sentences together. This may sound like a huge issue, but it has not made any roadblocks besides a few miscommunications.

If I am not laughing with my family, I am smiling with them. We all laugh and smile in the same language: that along with respect and love is all you need to successfully and happily live.

Not only have I been touched by these people, but they have also opened my eyes to the blessings I have that I take for granted on a daily basis. Celso, one of my brothers, takes three buses to his university, is up at five each morning, commutes four hours each school day and attends school from 8am until 8pm, doesn’t get home until 10 and does homework throughout the night. It is rare he gets more than three to four hours of sleep a night. And here I am rolling out of bed at nine, complaining about walking to my class that is five minutes from my on-campus apartment; talk about a reality check.

Education is a luxury, and I have always seen it as a normal part of life that I have to get done. I need to enjoy and revel in that gift as many kids would do anything to be in my carefree position. Thank you brother for showing me true dedication and hard work.

These are only a couple of the perspectives I have gained during this trip and I cannot wait to continue to learn and feel so much more. El Salvador has captured my heart, I will forever be grateful.

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Day 2 Reflection by Mary Muncher

The heat was intense today, but lovely weather for spring break nonetheless. To start off we ate a traditional El Salvadoran breakfast at the hostel viagra online rezeptfrei. Frijoles, huevos, queso, y jugo. After that we went to the community center where we were greeted with hugs and smiling faces. Nerves and excitement overtook my body as one by one each student introduced themselves to me. Anytime I heard English come out of someone’s mouth I grasped onto it and felt immediate comfort. Language is a beautiful characteristic of culture because it makes each one unique, but it can create quite a barrier. The bienvenida ceremony was captivating. Each student played a role whether it be through dance, humor, Yes, credit monitoring services creates deposits, but it’s not necessarily so that every deposit is attached to a loan. or simply speaking English in front of the crowd. The niños were adorable and reminded me of my niece Isabella. I had to fight tears back watching their joyful faces and thinking that some of these kids may not have the opportunity to pursue their education without scholarships. I felt so very privileged and blessed today. These children had no say in where they were born, nor did I, but because of our locations some things come easier than others.  I know that feeling pity will do no good. What I can do is help to nourish the beautiful souls of our future so they can one day reach their full potential. Education is promising and everyone deserves it. Namaste.

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Day 1 Reflection by Emily Valdez

So here I am sitting in a hostel in el Salvador. It is hot and humid and strangely perfectly comfortable. There is some old classic rock jamming in the next room or somewhere outside my window. Instead of being annoying it is quite soothing. Today has been incredibly long and boring, but also extremely influential. I have formed new perspectives of the great people I travel with that I never could have judged otherwise. I have also gained a new view of this entire trip in many personal ways. After a very long night of many things going wrong, I prayed a lot about this trip and asked God to grant me a true experience to hear him. He seemed to keep telling me “You are not in control, let me guide you!” Thus far, he has given me so much more than I could have expected out of a simple day of traveling.

I woke up feeling simply happy and excited, knowing that I am in God’s hands, today, this week, and always. In learning about the lifestyles and academic goals of my peer travelers, I have developed a real respect for the strong drive and desire for a passionate life that they each have. God has a way of bringing great people into your life even when you do not expect a connection.

As for my feelings about the country, I am continuously shocked at how comfortable I am. The more I see here the more I remember and realize who I am and who I have been. It is so easy to get caught up in the hustle of each day at home. I feel as if I have put aside a part of who I am personally for the need of just getting my responsibilities taken care of. When I am surprised here by something that I can relate to, I remember things that were a significant part of my past and an influential part of who I am viagra in indien kaufen. The first thing I noticed when stepping off the plane was all the people standing outside with signs for travelers and offering taxis. This view brought back a rush of the places I have been in the past such as Mexico and Costa Rica. The tone in the language here and the gentleness in their demeanor gives me a sense of my hometown and the tradition there, including my grandmother and the traditions (especially in food), that she holds near and dear to her heart. These simple hints of familiar mean so much to mean. I feel that with this God is continuously reminding me of his presence, and that because of him and the influences he has given me I can be comforted in this path that he leads me down.

After this long and influential day I am in much need of sleep, but truly look forward to what tomorrow holds. We will go to the community and meet the scholarship students as well as all of their families and friends. I expect it to be different and overwhelming, but I believe that those are the types of opportunities that God puts in our lives to show us the beauty beyond our control. So for now Buenos noches y dulce Sueno.

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Reflection by Kathryn McConnell

One year ago El Salvador was just another name, another dot in the world, and one place that I didn’t even know where to find on a map. Little did I know that the moment I stepped in the rural community of El Espino, my life would never be the same. I was welcomed with open arms, smiles, and many new friends. Only a week later tears spilled down my cheeks as I said goodbye to my 19 new brothers and sisters and to my host family nbso online casino who had given me a new home. When I returned to the United States, I realized just how much I wanted to help my new friends. In order The chosen driving training school will be announced on Monday 12th January 2015. to do this, I joined the board for the Foundation for Cultural Exchange, and I have been doing my best ever since, to give back to the community that has given so much to me.

This year I am unbelievably excited to return to El Espino and to visit everyone again. I can only imagine how incredible it will be to return and to really enjoy being with all of them, since this year I know what to expect. I know that the chicos will continue to inspire me with their hard work, their motivation to continue their educations, and their love for everyone they meet.

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Reflection by Kendra Wildenberg


Kendra Wildenberg, CMU Sophomore

Thinking about this trip it is hard to write out my expectations, as I cannot imagine what to expect. Besides luxury vacations to resorts, I have never experienced another culture or country’s way of life. I could not be more excited to dive into another culture head first, their language, their beliefs, their food and their way of life are sure to all be foreign to me. I am mostly excited about the language piece; I am minoring in Spanish and speaking is where I need the most work. I will have to get used to making mistakes and step out of my comfort zone and accept the fact that I will probably sound like the world’s biggest gringo… haha. Gaining a new perspective of the world free from technology and many of the everyday aspects of life that I take for granted (toilet, showers, etc…) will be extremely fascinating; I want to see what life would be like if I was not in such a well-off country. Overall this trip will be amazing and scary all at the same time, but that is the reason I am so excited. Spring Break could not come fast enough!

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Reflection by Mary Muncher


Mary Muncher, CMU Junior

On March 21, 2014 I will be departing the United States of America and venturing off to El Espino, El Salvador. I am incredibly excited to embark on this journey and a bit nervous as well. The moment I saw this opportunity I knew it was meant to be. I have been longing for adventure, change, and the chance to make a difference. I know that my eyes will be opened to a variety of things including my perception on community, simplicity, prayer, and mission. I hope to broaden my self-awareness and strengthen my relationships with others. This is going to be an experience of a lifetime that I hope to fully submerge myself in. I am excited to break out of my comfort zone and really push myself to make the best of all situations. What I know now is that people all over the world are just waiting to make connections much like myself. I will have the privilege of meeting these people and hopefully making a difference in some way.

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Reflection by Anthony Montelongo

Anthony Montelongo, CMU Sophomore and ASB 2013 Participant

For several months now, I have woken up with a smile. As I sleep, my mind races through past memories and the new adventures that await me in El Salvador. These dreams are filled with smiling faces, gentle hugs and laughter from the people I came to know last year. These dreams are filled with the colors of the dense jungle and the illumination of the sunsets. I can smell the preparation of pupusas. I wake up with excitement and eagerness to live with these humble people once again. These are memories and moments that would be non existent if I had not taken a risk, if I had not said yes, one year ago. Two years ago I could be considered the typical college jock, who had a life consumed with academics and training. Once that chapter in my life had closed I was lost in the shadows of expectation. There was no clear path of where to go next. However, our Lord opened a door, as he always does. Inside the door was the whisper of adventure, “come and get me, come and get me.” It was the opportunity of a lifetime, to live in solidarity with the people of El Espino.

For weeks, I fought myself and was torn between taking risk and staying safe within my bubble. I prayed for guidance to make a decision. Then one morning I woke up feeling invincible. I woke up with the confidence to take this “One time” adventure. As a kid, I had always All this broken hard drive data recovery looks like a potential gold mine, but like a gold mine, you only have a little gold and lot more of everything else. aspired to be Indiana Jones and live an adventure. We say we want to see the world, yet sit in the sticky sap of “What ifs, should haves, could haves and would haves!” Why not just do it? So I did it. I went on the trip of a lifetime. I took the leap of faith, kept it all in the Lord”s hands and here I am, alive. I was immersed in culture, language and perpetual food! online casino More importantly, I learned.

It was in this chapter of my life in which I learned one of the secrets of this crazy life. Love cannot be said, but only shown. It was shown through those smiles, warm embraces and friendly laughs. How many people today would open their home to a stranger? It is analogous to…no, it IS the love of our Lord. I was embraced by the love of these people and by the Heavenly Father. I went to make a change, only to look in the mirror and see the change within myself. So, I returned to the States with clear eyes and a full heart.

As I write this, flying above the clouds, I can only imagine what adventure is in store for me this year. It will bring a smile to my face to once again see the smiles, feel the hugs and hear the laughter, only this time I will be awake and not in some dream. I ask for your prayers of safety and health. More importantly, I ask for your prayers to once again open my heart and ask the Holy Spirit to remind me what the important things in life really are.

Be Uncommon. Jeremiah 29:11


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Alternative Spring Break 2014 – Intro

Colorado Mesa University”s Mesa Catholic Campus Ministry (MCCM) is teaming up with Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM) Youth Ministry and el Centro de Intercambio y Solidaridad (CIS) for an Alternative Spring Break trip to Grand Junction”s Sister City of El Espino, El Salvador from March 21-30.  Anna Stout (President of the Foundation for Cultural Exchange (FCE), the organization that founded the Sister City relationship in 2005) and  Andrea Stanton (IHM”s Youth Minister & Sister Parish Liaison to the FCE Board of Directors) will be leading this trip, which is made up of one IHM high school teen and 7 CMU students. Two of these students are on their way for the second time!

The delegation will be staying in the community in the homes of FCE scholarship students while they are in El Espino.  Participants will have opportunities to visit various historical, cultural, and political sites in San Salvador, including the cathedral (which houses Servant of God Oscar Romero’s tomb), the University of Central America and the tombs of the UCA martyrs, the Hospital de Divina Providencia (where Romeo was assassinated while giving mass), a volcano, a coffee cooperative, and an artisan market.  They usually get married several times, but the later the marriage is, the more probable the success of it is. will also be spending several days in El Espino with the FCE”s 23 scholarship students and their families, where they will visit the Sister Parish, Sister School, and a shrine to the Virgen of Fatima in a nearby town.  And of course, no trip to a beautiful tropical country would quite be complete without a day at the beach!

We”ve decided to host this blog on the FCE website so that supporters of our Sister community can see the exciting things that are happening down there in and through these young men and women throughout their journey. Read more to hear what they are thinking about before they travel, and stay tuned for updates and photos while they”re away!

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