Trip Report by Bill Cohan

After vaccinations and ruminations about risks ranging from Immodium and mosquito-borne misery to banditos (“Bill, check the CDC website for health risks; better not take your fancy watch or your gold wedding band–too shiny…”) my son, Gabe, and I land in Guatemala City at night, retrieve a 50 lb. bag full of packages of various foods brought to nourish the Serve The World Today team during their 90-day stay in Guatemala, and watch the customs inspector looking quizzically at all the stuff. But when we say, “comida para nuestros amigos–ayudamos con construccion de escuelas en El Molino, Panicuy y Chimaltenengo,” he smiles, zips up the bag and waves us through. That night in Antigua we hear firecrackers exploding nearby, which I assume is automatic weapons firing (are we in danger?).

Next day our fellow voluntourists arrive and I try to remember names. Our bus climbs the steep cobble stone roads to Panicuy. Women walk along the roadside with huge loads balanced on their heads; everyone we wave to and smile at waves and smiles back at us. The hugs and the work start at the school in Panicuy, where we hug are warmly embraced by the women and children. We feel their openness, gratitude and sweetness; we see their smiles, the simplicity of their lives and weare grateful to be here and share life, inspiration and perspiration with our little brothers and sisters in Panicuy. My heart sings.

The showers at the hotel in San Martin suck, but it reminds us of the luxuries we take for granted at home and the dirt floors of the homes we visit in Guatemala. We meet survivors of thirty-six years of civil war in Guatemala and listen to their stories told without rancor. It brings tears to my eyes.

I am so gratified and uplifted by the high spirits, hard work and camaraderie of my fellow voluntourists, the love and gratitude of the people in Panicuy and El Molino, and the thoroughness, efficiency, purity and dedication of the Serve The World Today team – Josh, Zach, Heenal, Juan Ma and Gerson – that my heartache is soothed. My sorrow at those thirty-six years is washed away by the abundant love, energy and effort in which we are all immersed.

My heart is glad again and I will be grateful to Serve The World Today for the rest of my life for providing the finest alignment with the harmonious and beneficent forces in the cosmos. You manifest the spirit that alone has power to make this world a better place and you have strengthened my faith in myself and everyone on this planet in the power of love that unites us. I love you now, from here to Eternity. May God Bless you forever.