My name is Natalia (Yaya) Miller-Forrest and I am 14 years old.  I am part of the Immaculate Heart of Mary confirmation class.  I participated in the Alternative Spring Break trip as my retreat requirement for my first year of confirmation preparation. For the ASB trip, we traveled to El Salvador and visited a little community named El Espino.

I had a couple of favorite parts of this trip; one being the food. If you know me at all, you know that I love to eat and I eat all day every day. I liked all of the different types of food and how it is a different culture from Colorado. My favorite food we ate were the pupusas, even though by the end of the trip I was getting tired of them. Another one of my favorite parts of the trip was meeting all of the new people; especially Evelyn, our guide, Jimmy, our driver, and my host family: Abelardo, Mayerli and Jaimie. I enjoyed all of the family time we spent with our host families. For our house, BJ and Evelyn came over because they lived right next to us, basically on the same lot. While they were there, we played a lot of cards and we hung out in the hammocks that were hanging up and we talked.

Some of my biggest challenges during this retreat were not having my own bed, space, plumbing or being able to use a faucet or refrigerator if I needed to. At home, I have my own bed and I have my own room, but in El Salvador, I had to share a bed with my sister Grace and Andrea, one of our chaperones (while we were staying with our host families). Although we had our own beds at the guest house, I still did not enjoy having to share my space, especially since it was already hot as Hades when we were there. Another thing I did not enjoy was not having running water. In the United States, we can just turn on the faucet and wash our hands or go to the refrigerator and get a drink of water, but you couldn’t do that in El Espino. Instead, you had to use water out of a big tub outside for washing your hands and you got the clean drinking water in these big tubs that we brought with us.

During this trip, I saw God’s love the most when we were at the school. All of the children were so kind to one another and they were so happy when they got the small present we gave them, which was two pencils. Also, it didn’t matter what you had or how old you were or what you looked like, they all were treated with kindness and love by one another. Also, I saw God’s love when we were welcomed into the community like we were their own right from when we got there. I really enjoyed how kind and selfless everyone there was and how willing to give up what little they had for someone that they loved.

Overall, I really had what I think was an amazing experience. It showed me that I could live with the simplest of things and I will still be happy. Before this trip, I always thought that in order to be happy, you have to be successful, have a family, be well off, have a good job among other things but this experience has really opened my eyes and showed me that all I need to be happy is my family and maybe a little bit of food, since I love to eat.