Living in Jalapa, Guatemala

By Jamie-Lee Sonnenberg-Smith, History Major

Jamie in Jalapa. "This is a photo of Ludine and I. Ludine was one of the children I spent a lot of time with. We built two houses in his area. He did not attend school at the time, so he and his friends would always tag along with our group. We worked in his neighborhood for about three weeks straight, all throughout the day. He was truly a happy boy, and he always put a smile on my face. He called me his “gringa mama.”

Jamie in Jalapa. “This is a photo of Ludine and I. Ludine was one of the children I spent a lot of time with. We built two houses in his area. He did not attend school at the time, so he and his friends would always tag along with our group. We worked in his neighborhood for about three weeks straight, all throughout the day. He was truly a happy boy, and he always put a smile on my face. He called me his “gringa mama.”

I was fortunate to have the opportunity of a lifetime to spend my last semester of high school on a mission trip. I spent four months in the mountainous region of Jalapa, Guatemala. The people there may be impoverished, lacking clean water, proper nutrition and adequate living conditions, but make no mistake–they are rich in heart and happiness.

Although I was there to help these people live a better life and provide them with basic human necessities, they too helped me live a better life. It was in the beautiful mountains of Jalapa that I learned what the true value of life is: Happiness comes from that which cannot be purchased.

I learned to appreciate my family and friends, and understand that the “little” things in life are really all that matter. To see people with almost nothing constantly have smiles on their faces, with the ability to find a reason to be happy and positive had an overwhelming impact on me. When I am having a bad day, I reflect on that. I realize how trivial some of the things are I tend to get upset over. Does it really matter that my laptop broke? I still have food, clean water, and shelter.

My outlook on life has completely changed since my experience in Guatemala. I have much more appreciation for the opportunities I have been granted and the life I live.

 

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