It was exactly what my Soul needed.
This trip changed my life. This blog is going to be a copy and paste of my journal during my trip to El Savador. So much opened up for me after this trip and I couldn't be more grateful for Change Heroes and Techo for doing such great work and bringing such amazing people together.
Most importantly I am so present to my love and gratitude for everyone that supported me in making this happen. Thanks to all of you that donated towards this beautiful home for the Martinez Family.
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Dec 4 - day 1
Today is day 1. It's so warm and beautiful. Not a cloud in the sky. Sunshine makes me happy. We meet the families in their village named Communidad Marvin. They all have big smiles on their faces. You can see how grateful they are. Nothing can replace that look. An old lady grabs and hugs each one of us. She hugged us so hard and kept thanking us. You could just feel it was from the heart. It is so nice to be here. Lots of greens. Open space. Sunshine. Simplicity. They don't have much. Yet they are content. Or not? But they sure know how to live with the little they have. Then we go to the beach. The ocean is warm, the sand burns our feet but it's worth it. It is so perfect. All of it. We have an awesome crew with us - really awesome.
Dec 5 - Day 2
The volunteers are so amazing. I can't believe how grateful and fun they have been - talk about attracting what you are. My volunteering team ended up being so much fun! They are upbeat and non-stop singing and dancing! I am having a lot of fun with them and can't stop counting my blessings! Our family is a mom and 2 daughters. I don't know what their story is but I know they are grateful to have us here. The mom cooks lunch and we all sit and eat together. We barely communicate. I don't speak Spanish, they don't speak English. Yet it is so nice. I have been so open and free. I'm not worrying about a lot of the things that I normally worry about. I am letting go of things like taking a shower with questionably clean bucket water in open space, not washing my hair when it's super gross, looking fat and bloated, sleeping on a desk again, and just all the "looking good" stuff. I let it all go and the trip is perfect. "This trip is not about me. This trip is not about me." I keep reminding myself. I am loving this and I am clear that's where I belong, being of service. I pray I get to do this many times again. I pray I get an opportunity to put smiles on many many many faces.
Dec 6 - Day 3
I didn't have the best sleep. I have been sleeping on a table for the last 2 days. Not the best situation but honestly could be much worse. I am trying not to think about it and be grateful. I am having a good start to my day. On my way out I “Thank You wall” that was created outside. My name is on it and it is filled with loving messages from my volunteer team. Put a giant smile on my face and my heart. We get to the site and everyone is excited to get started. The family is so cute and happy to see us hugging and kissing us. We are chatting, singing and having fun together. It quickly gets super warm, even warmer than day one. By 11am I am fading. I decide to walk around, meet and connect with other families. I am being super present and connected to each person I interact with. I am filled with joy and have a giant permanent smile on my face. Mama Lorena, the mom we are building the house for cooks us lunch. It consists of a lot of carbs. It is not the easiest to digest and it makes us all sleepy. A bunch of us nap after lunch. It is honestly hard to stay awake at times. It is so warm too; we are sweating like there is no tomorrow. I have never been this sweaty and dirty before.
We are ahead of schedule. We are being playful. We start working on the roof and I am very confident we can be done in an hour and go help others finish their homes. Somehow, we cut the roof wrong, I honestly don't know what the problem is exactly and I don't try to fully understand but it is holding us back. I don't end up asking for help until the very last minute. My mind slowly starts panicking when I see how dark it is getting. I know we are running out of time and I really want the house to be done before leaving the village. I start to motivate the team, I start working harder, I start recruiting people to help; but it is too late. It is too dark.
Most others are done building their homes and it is our last day there. Our bus is here. I am sad, confused, scared to leave them with an unfinished home. They come to get me. All I keep hearing was "Daniela, Daniela! Where is Daniela? We need to go! The bus is here. Where is Daniela?" My heart just dropped. I am not ready. I don't want to go. All I am thinking is "go without me or just wait! Why can't you people come help? We just have one more piece and we’re done!" But that is not an option. It is so dark, we can't work anymore. I run to get my bag inside the house, looking for mama Lorenna. I finally find her. We grab each other right away and hug. It is so dark and we can barely see anything. They have no electricity but through people's phone flashlights we can see tiny shades of each other - and we just cry in each others arms. We are both shaking and in that moment all I experience is Love. In that moment, there is a beautiful trade even though no words are exchanged. The exchange is all contained in this one energy present. Pure love. Abundance of love. It is such a magical moment. It is like my mom is holding me. Mother Earth. A mother being grateful for her child.
I feel someone grabbing me aggressively and it is Roxana, her daughter, and my sister for the weekend. She grabs and pulls me in her arms and keeps thanking me. She is crying. I hug them both and say thank you. They keep saying "bendiciones, bendiciones.." Over and over again. I don't know what it means but I feel its meaning. It genuinely touches my heart. Then I see Jesse right there with the saddest look on his face, waiting for me. He grabs me and we walk away. I turn around to look at them and say my last goodbye.
I sit on the bus in tears. I am happy, sad, scared, hurt, angry, yet so grateful and in love. I have so many emotions. David, one of the volunteers, sees me in tears, sits beside me and promises the home will be finished by next week. I smile and say thank you. My heart knows he is being honest and it will be done. I smile. The rest of the night is fun. We spend quality time with our volunteering team and acknowledge each other for our contributions over the week-end.
A week later, the house is completed and TECHO sends us pictures of mama Lorenna in her brand new home. You can imagine the smile on my face! We did it! We built them a safe, beautiful new home. Check out this Short video of The Journey To El Savador.
This trip left me wondering, how did I walk around everyday looking for love through actions, belongings and more; And here I spend 2 full days being present and connected and feel such genuine love? I have been doing things, attaching to people, looking for love in the wrong places my whole life not understanding why it felt so empty. I was present to my walls, my stories, my worries and what I chose instead of love everyday that stopped me from truly connecting to others. What a beautiful gift that awakening was.
A few weeks ago today, Ariel Swan, an amazing human being who was on this trip with me, went back to the village to visit. Ariel got to see the families including mama Lorenna! She even sent me a picture! Since our trip, TECHO added electricity and a water system! Today Ariel is raising money to build a community center for this village! Could you imagine? The little village that had almost nothing, today has homes, water, electricity and a possibility of a community center! I am beyond excited for this project.
It is so amazing to see where our money goes and meet the people it goes to! The idea that WE as a team were able to provide this for a community is such a wonderful blessing and we will be doing it again!