Updated: May 29, 2019
By Connor Leidner
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” - Martin Luther King Jr.
We began our final full day in Guatemala as we always did: an early start to a busy day. After breakfast at Hotel Casa Antigua, we travelled to Escuintla, an area far closer to the Pacific Coast and significantly hotter. We arrived at Los ATUs, which are transition shelters for families who have been affected by disasters. In our case, we were visiting around 600 people at one shelter who’s homes, jobs, and lives had been destroyed by a volcanic eruption nearly a year ago. While there, we joined another CEDEPCA team from Canada to assemble hygiene kits and distribute them to the people at this shelter. While one of the two teams was assembling kits, the other team was playing with the children of the community. From fútbol (soccer) to burbujas (bubbles) to tiburones y pececillos (sharks and minnows), we spent an hour entertaining the children before assembling the kits. Assembling those kits was easily my favorite part of the entire trip.
I have always loved serving because, well, serving others feels good. I have never served for the sake of saying that I serve, or for the sake of being recognized for my service — in my opinion, recognition should not be the catalyst that drives service, because the results of your good deeds, known or unknown, should suffice. While we could be easily seen by the residents in Escuintla, we spent the majority of our time assembling the kits and not receiving any praise by the people for whom we were making them. And that for me, is more than enough. Knowing that these hygiene kits will help but a small facet of the many disasters that plague their lives was enough for me. It was enough to know that I helped. And I will never see the fruits of my service, but sometimes you have to plant the seed and never see it grow.
I began this journal with a quotation by MLK that has always remained with me: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” So I constantly ask myself that question, and I constantly try to answer it. But as he states, it is both persistent and urgent, so my desire to serve is a thirst that will never be quenched. Thank you, Guatemala, and thank you, Ukirk.