Mercer On Mission

2016 Blog

This blog is made and updated by Mercer undergrads. Throughout our time in Honduras, students from the various disciplines will write about their experiences serving. 

A Week in Paradise

I am a city girl. I like malls, concerts, and movies. I enjoy my Internet and Netflix bingeing. I enjoy high heels, Sephora, and shows at the Fox Theatre. And most importantly: I hate bugs. 

With that being said, I have truly enjoyed my time at Rancho El Paraiso. I was, for the most part, disconnected with the world in a way that made me realize it really is the simple things in life that matter most. I have a tendency to place great emphasis on the unimportant parts of my life while neglecting or not appreciating the time spent with family and friends, having clean water and electricity, living in a safe environment, etc. I saw so many smiling and appreciative people that I had to take quite a few moments to reflect about myself and my values. 

One of the things I heard that impacted me the most was the children I interacted with referring to their school as "the most beautiful school in the community." I was stunned. In America, beautiful schools usually mean massive, brand new buildings with the latest computers, artwork, auditoriums, and stadiums. Here, the library is a one room building with a painting of a tree on one wall, windows, zero air conditioning, and about 4 bookshelves. The bathrooms don't have stalls with doors and you can't flush the tissue. The classrooms have bars instead of full walls or windows. The auditorium is more like a patio with a covering and plastic chairs from the classrooms. The soccer field has dead, brown grass. 

And it is beautiful.  

It was paradise. 

Because that is what the children and the parents and the teachers turned that school and the surrounding town into. Their gratitude and optimism are to be admired. They are admired. By me, anyway. I went into this school thinking that I would be teaching these Honduran people coping skills for managing stress, teaching about drugs and alcohol, and discussing violence in the community. And I did do all of those things and more. 

But what they taught me was greater than anything that I could have ever taught them. I learned from them that paradise is all about perspective. It isn't a destination. It isn't a thing to be purchased. Paradise is in your friends. It is in your family. It is in your school. Paradise is in your heart. And that is a lesson I am thankful to have learned.

Toiya, Marriage & Family Therapy 

P.S.: I can still live without bugs in my life. No amount of time at a ranch will change that. :) 

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