Fair warning: this is going to be a long one guys haha. SO much to say and tell you about!
I’ve been following The Bucketlist Family on instagram for a while now, and a few weeks ago they messaged me and asked if me and John Luke wanted to go on a service trip with them to Guatemala! I was speaking in Ohio the day after we’d be getting back from Guatemala, so we just had to figure out how we were going to be gone for 10 days the week before finals! We finally got it worked out, said yes, and then we had our flights booked for a trip to Guatemala with about 12 people we had never met!
We often get asked h0w we miss school for traveling, which we do not do a ton, but probably more often than most college students…this is how:
First off, a big thank you to our awesome professors who are always willing to work with us. We still have to submit all of our assignments and do our work, but they will let us submit them online or turn them in before we leave. Residentially, all of our classes are now upper-level, which means attendance is not mandatory, but of course its best to be in class. I pretty much never skip class if I am in town, even without them being mandatory. First off, it’s best for me to be there for learning, but it also shows my professors I care, then they are more willing to help me if I need to miss for travel. Also, almost all of mine and John Luke’s classes are in the school of divinity, so when our professors hear we are doing a service trip they are happy we are getting the opportunity to serve and do things for the kingdom. We also take some online classes as well. Even when we can make it work and miss school, it is HARD. With wifi problems, and time differences for due dates, and reading a text book from photos on your phone sent to you by your sister to take a quiz, and cramming before and after a trip, our grades usually are not as great as they could be if we were at school, but we have just had to decide what will be best for us long-term, and really we can only make that call. If a trip to Guatemala cost me a “B”on an assignment rather than an “A,” that one B will not determine my entire grade for the course.
We flew into Guatemala City with 3 of our new friends we met up with in Atlanta. We met up with everyone else that night, stayed at a hotel in the city, then the next morning took a plane to the city of Reu. The first half of our trip we were working with this neat group from Guatemala who solely wanted to show us some cool places in Guatemala and just enjoy their country! One of the people we were working with on the first half of our trip was Antonio. We stayed at his hotel, Takalik, that was in the jungle and had the awesome swing I posted a picture in! If you ever need a getaway or want to take a little retreat, this is a good place to go to get refreshed. They’ve got horses for riding, a coffee plantation, and the sweetest people. The first day we went and saw some Mayan ruins and also a little animal rehabilitation place that was right next to the hotel.
The next day we started out with breakfast at a really cool hotel and had a view of an active volcano!! Breakfast looking at a volcano was definitely a new one for me and OH so cool! Then we went to an amusement park and a water park that ended up being really fun! Wish I had a video of JL coming down the biggest slide haha. Such a neat bonus of being in already beautiful Guatemala. Dinner that night was at another beautiful hotel. They’ve got a helicopter there and its SUPER cheap to go up for a ride and get to see the land plus the volcanos!! SO wish we could’ve done this, but we didn’t have enough time…but just a reason to go back 😉
We hopped back on the plane back to Guatemala City then drove to Antigua. Antigua is the place you have probably seen pictures from before! With it’s cobblestone roads and colorful buildings, it is just beautiful and so unique. This is where we met up with the non-profit Healing Waters and the hat company Zephyr. Together they created the FLTR Campaign and that’s what we were there to learn about and see how we could help out!
So Healing Waters is a non-profit thats working toward ending the global water crisis. It’s hard to believe in the time we are living in now, with all of our advancements in technology and everything, that there are still places in the world that do not have access to clean water or are too poor to be able to afford. Well, that is definitely happening and 1.8 billion people are affected by it. To get perspective, every 90 seconds a person dies from a water-related illness. I always thought when I traveled to third world countries that I couldn’t drink the water or even brush my teeth with the water because my body isn’t used to it, but the locals could drink it because they were used to it. That is NOT true. We learned these people who aren’t able to get clean water are always sick and are always having stomach problems…they just don’t have any other choice. AND something that blew my mind- when a nation has clean water, their I.Q. as a whole goes up 30 points! People are able to think more clearly and students don’t have to miss school from being sick.
On top of all of that, Kayla who works with Healing Waters, told me on the phone before the trip, “How are people going to believe in a Jesus who saves them if they do not even have one of their basic needs met- water?” I was like WOW. You hear of people saying they do not believe in God because of the starving children in other countries (or the children dying from water-related illness), but thats where the church can come in and help! The global water crisis has a solution! We know how to get them clean water, we just need to educate people and have people willing to donate to the cause.
So what exactly are we doing?
Healing water partners with churches and other non-profits in areas who have some kind of natural water supply (like a well), then they go in and put in a water-filtration system. Some people are trained on how to use the system and then they sell it to the community for $.30 for a 5 gallon things of water. Most places sell clean water $2.30, but most people cannot afford that…they have to choose clean water or food. $.30 is affordable for them. By selling the water, money is going back into the community to be used for other good things! However, if there is a family who cannot afford water for even $.30, they are given water.
Zephyr hats came in and partnered with Healing Waters to start the FLTR campaign! YOU can help. When you donate money to the FLTR campaign, money is going toward putting water filtration systems in more communities! If you donate at least $25 you get one of these sweet hats sent to you too. The campaign kicks off tomorrow, so keep an eye on my instagram for a link for where to learn more and where to buy a hat!
announcing a fun option for anyone who is wanting to make a bigger donation!
if you missed it, you can click here to enter for a free trip to Guatemala!
Haha I know that was a lot to read, but we just had the best time exploring the country, meeting some precious Guatemalans and learning about their culture, getting educated on how we can help end the global water crisis, and making new friends with the people in our incredible group. One of the best trips of my life honestly. God was just so evidently working throughout the week and I am glad I got to be a part of it.
Meet our teammates here!
These two men, the one on the left is a pastor of the church behind them, sent 6 YEARS digging this well so they’re community could have a water source that could then be filtered. Digging by HAND. At the bottom a flame will literally go out from lack of oxygen. Their faith in God and their willingness and strength to do that inspires me so much.
Also honestly that well is way scarier than it looks haha. Makes me so appreciate what they did!