PASEO Program Adventure- Day 12: Trujillo, Peru

This whole lack of a cell phone thing really got me wondering why our society places such a large emphasis on electronics and non-verbal communication. Text messaging instead of phone calls, following people on social media sites instead of maintaining active communication, ignoring one another at the dinner table to “talk” to others via cell phones instead, and the infamous “let me take a picture of this so I can capture the moment.” When you don’t have a phone in front of you to partake in these actions, the only thing you really have is time to sit and think about all of it.

I’ll be the first to admit that it’s sad to think that so many pictures and videos are lost, but at the end of the day, that’s all they are—pictures and videos. The memories will always remain. (Yes, I’ve been told numerous times that I should have backed everything up on the cloud, but seeing as I’m not the most tech-savy person out there, the only thing I know about the cloud is that it’s what the weather forecaster speaks about whenever providing inaccurate weather forecasts). And in case you were wondering, no, my sense of humor hasn’t improved since losing my phone.

But really think about it. Everyone is trying to capture the moment we are currently living in, but are we really capturing the moment by snapping a picture? Of course you can look back years from now and enjoy the tangible object you have in your hand, but if we’re so focused on “capturing the moment,” we may lose out on actually living in and enjoying the moment. And that would be the biggest loss of all.

Maybe this is me trying to rationalize not having a cell phone at the moment and trying to look on the bright side, but I do hope that the day will come where we can stop relying on electronics to communicate with others while distancing ourselves from those around us, stop using emojis to describe how we’re feeling, and stop trying to preserve the moment we are currently in. When you take the time to think about it, each of the aforementioned actions only cause us to miss out on so many incredible memories that could be made all while doing so.

Yes, even though I’m sitting here writing about the challenges of communication in an era of technology, I still went out and purchased a Peruvian cell phone this evening in order to communicate with others. However, there is still something to be learned, seeing as so many of us are guilty on missing out on the current moment every time we try to “capture” the moment as best as we can. And as a side note, since the quality of the camera is subpar, I’ll leave you with a blank canvas to paint your own picture.

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Snapshot Challenge Saturday

Once in a lifetime—if you should be so lucky—you’ll come across someone who will instantaneously become your best friend. He will be there for you each and every second of each and every day—no questions asked. He’ll wait around at home for you, he’ll wag his tail and jump up and down when you walk in the door, he’ll bark in the early hours of the morning to make sure you’re awake, he’ll get in your way and obstruct your path until he leads you to the area of the house where the bones are, and he’ll do so many other things that bring light to your day. But above all, he’ll always provide you with unconditional love.

Nearly three weeks ago, I lost a family member and my best friend of nearly 14 years. I’ve been wanting to post something in his honor, but it’s difficult to put together words to describe someone who has given me so much. Our house feels so much emptier without our special friend, and life in general seems a lot less colorful. It isn’t easy trying to adjust to such a significant loss, but fortunately, I have been blessed with countless memories that I will cherish for years to come.

Thank you Caine for showing us all what it’s like to truly be loved, and what it’s like to have the best friend anyone can ever ask for. This week’s Snapshot Challenge is dedicated to you because the love you provided me with is truly beautiful. I’ll miss you more than you can imagine.

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One Child’s Bravery

On the medical mission I attended this past summer, a mother exclaimed that her son had become closed off after the recent passing of his father. She asked if there was anything we could do to help, so I sat with her son and tried to get him to open up. It turned out, his older siblings did not talk about the loss of their father, and he didn’t want to upset his mother with his sadness, seeing as she was still grieving as well. All it took was someone to help this young boy realize that it is okay to grieve the loss of his father. Helping him understand the importance of speaking up about his sadness was also essential in letting him feel as though he was allowed to talk about the pain he was experiencing. Even though I was only able to provide a lending ear, that was all this child needed at the current moment in time—someone to listen to him.

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Mami Leo’s Legacy Will Always Live On

This past week was a very difficult one because the world lost an incredible human being on Sunday, March 8th. Whenever the medical mission team I volunteer with would go to Guatemala and stay at the orphanage Mami Leo founded nearly thirty years ago, she would remind us to not forget about the children upon our return to the states. Our group stayed at the home for only one week, twice a year, and that’s it. For the other 355 days in the year, Leonor Portela, who was more affectionately known as Mami Leo was at the home with the children by herself. Through the hurricanes, earthquakes, mudslides, and the days with no electricity, Mami Leo was there protecting her children. It takes a special person to dedicate her life just to provide a life for others, and that’s exactly what Mami Leo did.

I flew out to Guatemala City early Wednesday morning and arrived just in time for a beautiful mass held in her honor. The entire church was packed and there was not an empty seat in the building. Looking around the room and seeing just how many people Mami Leo has impacted throughout her life was an incredible sight, and knowing that this wasn’t even close to the amount of people she saved and inspired was even more incredible. The funeral procession commenced once the mass concluded, and it was just as difficult as you can imagine. When the funeral concluded, we drove to the orphanage in Sumpango, Sacatepequez where we all gathered around and talked, sharing stories of Mami Leo with one another.

We lined a bunch of tables next to one another and sat down for dinner in a long rectangular set-up. I sat by the center table, and as I looked to my left and right, a sense of peace overcame me. It was truly a beautiful sight; the table was filled with children of all ages who had been saved by Mami Leo (some of whom are pictured below). Even young adults who no longer live in the home came back to spend time with Memo Leo before her passing, and celebrate her life following this terrible loss. In looking around and taking in the surrounding environment, I realized the true impact of Mami Leo’s life work. Some of the people sitting at the table were among the first few children Mami Leo took in years ago, and they were sitting here with children of their own whom you can tell are provided with unconditional love and support.

The love that Mami Leo gave to her children has been carried on to their own children, and Mami Leo has successfully helped them break the chain of abuse, neglect, and abandonment in Guatemala. They are well-integrated members of society, many in Guatemala, and some in the United States. And what is just as special is the fact that they all still treasure where they come from, the beautiful home Mami Leo took them into, Misioneros Del Camino.

So while we mourn a tragic loss of what I truly believe is a one of a kind saint, we also rejoice in knowing that Mami Leo’s legacy isn’t going anywhere. We can all come together to help fulfill her mission and dream of providing love and support to such children in need, and more importantly, we will never forget Mami Leo, her work, or the thousands of children whom she is survived by. And as she once said, plain and simply, “If you don’t dream, you’ll never make it.” Descansa en paz Mami Leo.