Five weeks from today, I will be completely immersed in a different country, a different culture, speaking a different language, in a completely different world than the one I’m in right now. It’s weird to think about how fast it’s approaching. I remember when I first found out the news I was going to El Salvador a few months ago, I was so excited. I was humbled when I realized that I really found a way to do this, and that my friends and family were so willing to support fundraising this trip for me. But as my loved ones started planning their own trips to more “touristy” parts of America for their own Spring Break trips, I had to remind myself the reason I wanted to do this in the first place—this is my calling and I’ve never done anything like this. It’s my dream to travel and spread God’s word and help others, and I can only hope that this trip is the first of many to come.

Our group met again yesterday to talk about the gangs in El Salvador. I knew from the get-go that there are lots of gangs in El Salvador, but it was eye-opening to hear and read about the real life people my own age who live every day in fear for their own lives. The gangs are real, and simply walking to the wrong place at the wrong time can be dangerous for them. Anna told us that the average homicide rate recently dropped to four people per day. That’s insane. Although it’s been said that that statistic is going down, the system that the government and the gangs are walking on is a delicate one. Everyone is living in constant terror every day.

Being in college, I walk everywhere I go every day. I was thinking about this today while walking to class: Everyone I’m surrounded by, including myself, take the lives we live for granted. We just go about our daily routines on campus, going building to building, without fear of being robbed or killed or the safety of our loved ones. It almost seems silly to say that, when really, real people live in that constant paranoia every day, they grow up living that way. They don’t have dreams for the future the way we all do. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to be terrified to walk out of my own door.

This is why I think going on trips like this are so important. It’s important to open your eyes to the world outside of America. It’s one thing to read about it, see pictures of it, but it’s another to do something, even if that means simply living a day or two in these shoes. As much as I want to think that I know what to expect, I don’t know if I really will until I’m actually there. I’m worried that my inability to speak Spanish will inhibit what I’m able to do while I’m in El Salvador, but I know and trust that God has a plan for me while I’m there. He’s gotten me this far, hasn’t He?

Sometimes when I think about this trip, I think to myself, “Oh my gosh I can’t believe

I’m seriously doing this.” But when I think about it more, I know I’ve never been more excited for anything in my entire life.