A sleepless awakening

Caroline Ahlgrim, in-depth editor

When people think about soothing nighttime sounds, I’m pretty sure noisy trucks do not come to mind.

Last June, I prepared myself for the first night of sleep on a Guatemalan mission trip. Little did I know the ruckus that awaited me.

Throughout the night, I was serenaded by the beautiful sounds of truck horns, dazzled by the constant yelling on the street and mesmerized by the melodic tunes of a stray dog choir. As wonderful as it was to listen to such music, it left me sleepless and rather crabby the next morning. By the interesting hairstyles and bloodshot eyes around the breakfast table, I could tell my friends had a similar experience.

The first few days were rough. Many high school students and leaders expressed the desire to curl up in a ball like an armadillo. Despite our lack of sleep, we divided into groups for the day and left to serve the Guatemalan community.

Specifically, I was a part of the children’s team which spent all day visiting schools and orphanages,  playing with the kids and doing a show for them. Although it was exhausting when five small children jumped on my back at the same time wanting a piggyback ride, I found energy in their laughter and smiles.

At the first school we visited, there was a definite change in team dynamic. Instead of lumbering around slowly and unenthusiastically, everyone embraced the children’s energetic spirit. When we traveled to a new place, students and leaders alike were excited to bring joy into their lives. We learned the importance of persisting even when we got tired or felt like quitting because inspiration can come from surprising sources.

Regardless of if a person has been to Guatemala or not, everyone can apply this concept since many people run into difficult and tiresome situations each day. When faced with one of those situations, perseverance is key and will eventually lead to newfound energy.

In addition to feeling energized by the kids’ reactions to us, everyone on the trip helped motivate each other through encouraging words and humor, sometimes taking the form of sarcastic comments. For a high school student, this principle can be applied in many situations, such as a difficult sports practice, a bad day at a job or an undesired result on a test. In any of these stressful cases, it is important to count on friends for moral support and inspiration.

What’s the point?

  • Different cultures present unique challenges
  • Energy can come from unexpected sources
  • Counting on friends provides both humor and support
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