Back in the day—a full decade ago—I was one of four high school students chosen to go on a service trip to Belize with Hand in Hand.
The other three girls that were selected and I came from socioeconomic situations that didn’t exactly lend to us ever being able to go on a service trip—much less travel to a different country—to help build a home for others experience different cultures firsthand or really experience our roles within a global community.
There was one pivotal moment for me on this trip, and it’s probably not one that many people would expect. Of course, placing the last wall in order to create a livable space for my Belizeans brothers and sisters, shadowing a quickly made friend at her high school for the day, or even trekking up a pyramid while sweating profusely were all impactful and powerful moments that I experienced.
However, riding in the back of a truck to pick up some building materials to take back to our site was one moment that changed my life forever. As we drove through the Belizean neighborhoods, I got to see real people doing real things living their real lives that all looked immensely different from mine.
Maybe they had more than me. Maybe they had less than me. They probably had less than me, but I experienced this transcendental realization of the raw humanity that we all share.
I vowed to myself in that moment that I would return to Central America to do that work. Just 5 years later, I found myself writing grant proposals, organizing teams and raising money for a young Costa Rican nonprofit that was wholly aligned with my goals and life purpose.
I owe much of my life to that small spark of freedom and purpose that I experienced while riding in the back of a truck.
If you are considering serving in any capacity on a Hand in Hand trip, my one piece of advice to you is to do it.
We are meant to step outside of our comfort zones. We are called to serve our human family. We must live our lives in their fullest expressions.
Despite our fears and resistance, take a brave step forward in your life journey and let Hand in Hand be a part of that step. It shaped my life and it could do the same for you.