As a recent graduate of St. Joseph’s Catholic School in Greenville, I was excited yet nervous about going to El Salvador. My school’s mission team recently spent a week in the third-world country and we were eager to help the people there. None of us expected how much we would receive in return, however.
When we arrived in the capital city of San Salvador, the 21 members of our group were greeted most graciously. As we drove through the streets, it didn’t take long to realize that we weren’t in Greenville anymore. People were living in shacks along the roads and on corners. It was frightening at first but we felt very sympathetic towards them.
We traveled into the country to the tiny town of La Herradura to work at a local school. The living conditions were similar to that of the city — houses built with sheet metal on dirt foundations. We were lucky enough to meet some of the people and were struck by the joy and happiness they were filled with, even though they had nothing.
Everywhere we went, even out in the jungle, people were so jovial. There was a clear explanation for all this joyfulness — their faith.
The people in El Salvador place God first in their lives and it shows. They may not have much, but they do have their faith and their family, two things which cannot be taken from them. Their houses may not be much, but the altars in their churches are the most beautiful I have ever seen.
We taught English classes at the school and tried to share some of our lives with them. I’m not sure how much comprehension there was, but one thing was definite: They were overjoyed that God allowed us to be with them, and we were delighted that we could try and help.
We painted classrooms, handed out rosaries, and cleaned up churches in an effort to give back to the people of El Salvador.
But they gave us something that we will never be able to repay. They showed us the true meaning of life and what true faith is.
The people in El Salvador trust in God every day and they love Him, even though they are suffering. They suffer joyfully for God because they know that it is the life after death that is really worth living for. It’s easy for people to go to God when they need something, but it’s thanking God for all the little things He does for us that we rarely do.
The most important thing I received on the trip was to thank God for all the everyday luxuries that we don’t even think about.