reservations, not the good kind

Today, Mom asked if I had any reservations about this trip to El Salvador.  First, I was ecstatic that she read my blog as I often wonder if she thinks I’m a little crazy for the things I take on… traveling to third world countries and doing a lot of work for free, often paying money to do.  Of course, I have reservations about traveling into a distant rural area of a war torn foreign country to work hard construction labor for people I’ve never met, again- paying money to do so.

Today was immunization day, at least one of two before traveling to a country where health care is minimal and preventable diseases are still prevalent.  Both arms ache like mad, and, oh by the way, so do both legs from today’s run.  Reservations?

I listened carefully to the doctor’s lecture on the perils that await in the region I’ve chosen to travel to.  “What will you be doing in El Salvador?”

I said, “Building homes, construction.”  She followed with a lecture on potential for getting hurt on a job site and the unknowns of healthcare available in a third world region.  My mind drifted back to some very unpleasant memories from Haiti.   Had I known before Haiti what I know now?  This and many other reasons, my friends, are why I have many reservations about travelling to El Salvador.

The reservations won’t stop once we are in El Salvador, nor will they cease upon return.  I recall a conversation with a colleague while walking along a dirt road in Petit Goave.  We had just worked 10 long sweltering days surveying buildings – we were all tired, dehydrated, shocked,  restless, and feeling hopeless.  There was no end in sight.  I looked at my friend and colleague, “It seems like we are making little progress and it is hard to tell if we are really helping anyone.”   My body was recovering from a terrible bug; at that moment, my reservations where fierce.

With the an amazing calm, he took my hand, “If we helped one person today, one person on this entire trip, would it be worth it?”

Without hesitation, I clamored, “Of course.”  I wish I could say that at that moment, his words made my reservations go away, but they didn’t.  Looking back, it has helped me to grasp the bigger picture of what was done in those 15 days we spent surveying post earthquake buildings in Haiti.  Looking forward, it provides a clear understanding that there is yet so much yet to be done in so many places for so many people…..  then a purpose begins to slowly replace what was a reservation.

I found this dinner photo with three colleagues/friends I had the pleasure of working with in Haiti. Thank you Kai Ki, for reminding me on that day when we were walking along a dirt road, that there is a purpose.  Thank you Jill for your amazing faith in people and love of children.  Thank you Tim for your working hard through the long days, pushing us all to keep going.

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