By Audrey Maddox

With the trip to El Salvador just a little more than two months away, I am slowly beginning to learn more about my fellow team members and our upcoming experience in El Espino. Even this early in the process, I have learned a lot from my trip leaders, mostly about fundraising. It has been hard humbling myself to ask people for financial help. I have already put myself outside of my comfort zone but with the support of those around me I have proven to be up to the challenge.

Our group met for the third time yesterday, and we spent a long time discussing social justice and human dignity. I am passionate about these topics and I was excited to talk about them, learning from my leaders and fellow team members. Truly, it pains me to constantly notice examples of inequality in today’s world. I believe that within each individual is a story and a universe worth their every breath. Some people are not given the same respect in society because they have been beaten down, taken a different life path, or been given less opportunities, but they are still valuable souls and deserve to be treated with dignity and justice.

With the journey to El Salvador on my mind, I am now starting to think about these concepts on an international level. I don’t know much yet about the locals that I will meet in El Espino, but I have the utmost respect for them and their lives. I look forward to witnessing their lifestyle, resourcefulness, and strength against adversity greater than I’ve ever had to face. I hope that by showing them love, I might be able to give back some of what they will be giving me.

As all these thoughts circulate my mind, I am taken back to the prayer by Archbishop Oscar Romero that starts every meeting. One line that sticks with me every time is “We plant the seeds that one day will grow.” It reminds me that as much as I want to change the world overnight, real change takes time and patience. My duty is to nurture that change along the way. We are going to El Salvador for such a short time that realistically our effect on the community will be minimal. But by arriving in their country with an open heart, willing to learn the needs of the community and receive their love, I want to bring them the hope that someone cares.