Sweat runs down my sand-crusted forehead, across my cheek, and finally lands in the Concrete mixture. With each shovel-full, my back winces as some Honduran boys and I move the pile of concrete to the left.
I understand enough Spanish to know when the Hondurans want to move the piles and where to put things, but usually I am at a loss of words to try to make friends. However, at lunch, a window of opportunity presents itself. After eating my chicken and rice soup, I watched the other men work, leveling out the floor of the building. A boy, who appeared to be my age, looked through the window with me. Quickly, I realize that I had met this boy the day before.
During my mission trip to Honduras this past summer, I met Angel. He was short, tanned after spending hours in the sun, and had a warm smile. The first time I met him, I was at a local prayer service where regional churches travel to the city of Culmi. The youth minister attempted to get the various groups to co-mingle. While I couldn’t think of anything to ask Angel more than his name and age, I could tell he wanted to be friends. However, after performing a skit for the rest of the churches, Angel left to go back to his village.
The next morning we began to lay the concrete floor. So many village people gathered with our church group that I didn’t see Angel initially, even though we had just spent the morning working side by side. After we attempted to talk at lunch, it became my goal to work just as hard as he did. Hours went by and he kept working and I kept working, while the rest of the group was taking their siestas! As we waited for the water to soak the concrete mix, I glanced down to see a hodgepodge of sand, dirt, and concrete that had formed a layer of soot on my Cornell athletics shirt. This striking juxtaposition gave me a sudden epiphany: all of these discomforts were only temporary.
I was complaining about my sore back, but Angel would be doing similar work for the rest of his life. While I have had the privilege of attending Jesuit College Prep, he has limited educational opportunities, leaving few possibilities of changing his socio-economic status. When I am worried about what college I will be attending, he will be focusing on how to provide for his family.
Taking this trip to Honduras allowed me to see how blessed I am. Nearly every aspect of my life has been easy. I haven’t had to earn a nice house, my Jesuit education, or even my car.
Going to Honduras has served as a reminder to me, helping me realize that because I have been given many gifst freely, I have an obligation to reciprocate my blessings and opportunities to others. This idea isn’t new to me; in fact, I wrote in my application to Jesuit about how a proper education could help me positively contribute to the global community. Attending Jesuit has helped me develop a better understanding of global solidarity and Jesuit’s altruistic mission of “Men for Others.” Jesuit has reinforced my core values, and similarly, my mission trip to Honduras has furthered my understanding of what I have been taught.
Angel furthered my understanding of what it means to be a “Man for Others.” My experiences in Honduras are invaluable. I hope to go back next year to see Angel and the other friends I made and, more importantly, to continue to learn about how I can better serve the global community.