We’re now a couple weeks closer to our trip to El Salvador, and we’re starting to get a lot of responses back from our fundraising letters to friends and family. I’ve been truly surprised and humbled by the shocking generosity that so many people have displayed during my fundraising experience. My family has helped me out tremendously with their generous donations. Even old family friends whom I haven’t talked to for many years have shown their support with donations. However, the one that surprised me the most was a friend who I spend time with every week. One day I was talking to her about how excited I was to be going to El Salvador over spring break and about the fundraising letters that I was writing for it. When she heard about the letters she got really excited and said that she wanted one. So, I added her to my list and wrote her a letter. I wasn’t really expecting much from it because I thought that she just wanted to read more about the trip and maybe help out a little. Boy was a surprised. Last Friday she handed me an envelope. When I opened it and saw what was written on the check inside I was literally frozen with shock with my mouth hanging open. Cliché, I know, but true. My dad saw my face and thought something was wrong. Words wouldn’t form, so I just handed him the check until the words finally came, “It’s a check for $200.” I called her later to thank her a million times for her help, and she just waved it off like it wasn’t a big deal at all. She said that she’d been on a lot of mission trips over the years and that people had always helped her financially as well. She was just so happy to finally be on the other end, giving to help someone else to their goal. I am still just so surprised by the generous, giving nature of so many people. I’d like to thank all of them for their help and support. When the group leader first told us that we had to raise $500 to go on this trip, I didn’t really think that I’d ever be able to raise that much money. Now, I have actually exceeded that goal. It’s such a great feeling to know that there is such good in humanity, just waiting for the right time to appear. Unfortunately, not all of humanity shows its goodness. In fact, a lot of times they show the exact opposite. Our group’s assignment for last meeting was the read the information about two of the scholarship students in El Salvador, which we discussed at our meeting. Each student had a different view on the subject, but the basic fact was that they were scared. They all talked about the ever-present gangs, constant violence, death, and uncontrollable fear that they lived with every day. Many of the students have been robbed more than once. They are afraid to walk too far from the college campus for fear of being attacked. Many of their friends and family have been murdered by gang members. The violence and fear is so prevalent that they can’t even feel at ease within their own community. It is incredible how strong they all are to simply get up and keep going, keep fighting every day to get just a little farther ahead in life. I hope that the love and care our group shows when we visit will give them some hope that the world isn’t as bad as it seems and that it can get better. The point of the scholarships is to help these students make their own life better, one day and year at a time. It’s great that our group will be able to help fund the scholarships once we get back from the trip. We want to help these students succeed, because each of them is an amazing person with a lot to offer the world and their community. Some of the students we talked about in our last meeting each had a unique view of the world and their own aspirations in life. Some were high school students, others were college students majoring in many different subjects, like English, Law, Chemistry, and more. They want to be teachers, law officers, bankers, and members of the national orchestra. In order to achieve those goals, they push themselves every day. Most of the college students wake up by 4 or 4:30 every morning to get to school after a two hour bus ride. Their classes end at 1:30; then they take the bus home, help with chores around the house, and finish their homework before going to bed late and starting all over again. Many people here in America complain about how hard their life is, but our lives here are so much easier compared to the lives of these students, and we don’t even have to deal with nearly as much of the fear that pervades their society. Learning about these students and their lives makes us so grateful for our own lives. It also makes us excited to be able to visit with them, learn from them, and share some of our hope with them.