Travel, Coffee, and Giving Back: My Guatemalan Journey to Self-Discovery

Travel, Coffee, and Giving Back: My Guatemalan Journey to Self-Discovery

Travel, Coffee, and Giving Back: My Guatemalan Journey to Self-Discovery

As the world has become increasingly fast-paced and interconnected, finding moments of peace and reflection has become a rare luxury. We all live in a loud world. Constant beeps, noise pollution and so many other things can be mind numbing. Traveling to far-off places offers not only the chance to explore breathtaking landscapes but also the opportunity to disconnect from daily distractions and immerse ourselves in new cultures. Recently, on a mission trip back to Guatemala, I had the privilege of experiencing the power of this type of transformative journey. We were at Opal House, a Montessori school for rural, indigenous, Mayan children, who often suffer from the effects of poverty and broken homes. We worked with them using art therapy to help them see a way through trauma using art. Very moving. Surrounded by the stunning beauty of Lake Atitlan and indulging in the rich taste of Guatemalan coffee, I discovered the profound impact that travel, coffee, and giving back can have on our lives.

Embracing the Joys of Travel

Traveling to new places opens our minds to the vast diversity of the world. It challenges our preconceptions, enriches our perspectives, and fosters a deep appreciation for the beauty of our planet. It certainly takes me out of my comfort zone. When we landed in Guatemala City, it was like any big metro area. It was loud, dirty and busy. They traffic is very fast paced and there are scooters and motorcycles zipping by on all sides. As we traveled out of the city and into the mountains of Guatemala, I was again mesmerized by the enchanting landscapes and the warmth of the local people. The picturesque Lake Atitlan, surrounded by 7 volcanoes and vibrant green hills, left an indelible mark on my soul. Such natural beauty serves as a reminder of the wonders that await us when we venture beyond our safe, everyday life. 

Coffee: A Connection to Culture and Community

Guatemala, renowned for its coffee, offered me an exquisite and unparalleled experience with my beloved beverage. The aroma of freshly brewed coffee permeated the air, inviting me to indulge in its warmth and richness. Coffee, more than just a beverage, is a significant part of Guatemalan culture, fostering community and connections among people. Guatemalans will drink coffee anytime, Day or Night, 24/7. THESE ARE MY PEOPLE!  As I sipped my coffee with newfound friends, I realized how this simple act can bring people together, fostering meaningful conversations and lasting bonds. Connecting over coffee has never been easier. 

Disconnecting to Reconnect

In the modern world, distractions seem to be omnipresent. However, my time in Guatemala taught me the importance of disconnecting from the digital world to reconnect with ourselves and those around us. Stepping away from the constant buzz of notifications and social media allowed me to truly be present in the moment and appreciate the beauty of nature and the company of others. It was so very quiet. The sunrise time allowed for a most energizing way to start the day. The sky was so clear at night. Not only did I see many more stars, I actually saw the Milky Way Galaxy in the sky! This was a first. This disconnection rejuvenated my mind and soul, giving me the space I needed to think, dream, and pray.

The Gift of Giving Back

Engaging in a mission trip provided me with the opportunity to give back to a community that embraced me with open arms. Volunteering, whether in a foreign land or our own neighborhoods, allows us to make a positive impact on others' lives. The smiles of gratitude and the newfound sense of purpose I witnessed among the people we helped were heartwarming and humbling. Seeing the joy on the kids' faces, the realization that each one of us are all works of art, and the revelation that we can fix our brokenness, was amazing!  It made my heart happy. I left a bit of my heart at Opal House on the last trip. I left a good bit more this trip. I will absolutely be back. Giving back doesn't just benefit those in need; it enriches OUR lives and brings us a sense of fulfillment that cannot be replicated.

My second journey to Guatemala was more than just a mission trip; it was a transformative experience that reminded me of the profound value of travel, coffee, and giving back. The beauty of Lake Atitlan, the delight of savoring Guatemalan coffee, and the joy of serving others all played a role in shaping my perspective on life. Travel allows us to explore the world and appreciate its diversity, while coffee provides a cultural connection and fosters community. Giving back empowers us to make a difference and enriches our own lives in the process.

I will strive to find the peace/quiet back here at home in Tennessee. I know it will be difficult. I also know that it will be worth it. Nothing meaningful is ever easy. We have to be deliberate about these types of things. Baby steps. As we embark on our life journeys, let us remember to take time to disconnect from distractions, embrace new experiences, and give back to the communities that touch our hearts. ( and perhaps drink coffee while doing it.) Only then can we truly discover the essence of our being and the purpose of our existence.

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