Trip Report by Sue-Z Schwab

YEA!  I have been on two trips to Guatemala.  I believe things happen for a reason.  On 09-11-2011,  I was on Facebook with Heenal (from Serve The World Today), he asked me to join the Oct Pop-Bottle school trip and complete an application.  I looked at my hubby (Randy) and he knew, I needed to be part of that trip.  My corporate world was not to happy with two trips in two months, but I had vacation time and they knew they couldn’t stop me. Aug – Nicaragua, Oct – Guatemala, how lucky am I.  Financially, it was tricky, but I knew it had to happen.

When I came home from my Guatemala October trip … my excitement overwhelmed my family, especially my daughter – Jenaka.

As parents we decided to step outside our financial comfort zone and provide ‘memories’ for our children for Christmas.  This is why Jenaka went to Guatemala for her Christmas and 21st birthday present, her birthday is Momentum weekend (Jan 30th).  As a college student, she did the fundraising by herself.

Talking with Zach, Heenal, and Joshua during these trips has been amazing. Personally, I want to thank you for your time.  You personalized the trip for me …. as you know.  I am hoping to Host a trip in the future.  Mother/Daughter team would be fun.

My take on the whole experience:

6 years of being a foster-home, I loved to bring a sense of ‘normalcy’ to a child’s life.   (Not that I like the word normal … but it works)

I have been blessed to learn about the Manifest Foundation, which will enable me the opportunity to help children all over the world.

I enjoy being able to serve in a community by doing tasks that save the community time and money.  Knowing that a school can be built out of garbage and recycled products is priceless. This helps each community to clean up their piece of the planet.  I appreciate knowing that a completed Pop-Bottle school is enabling education to continue for hundred’s of children, with a school building that will be around for years.

What I didn’t realize and what amaze’s me about a volunteerism trip, would be the WELCOME you receive by the community.  I enjoy the endless hugs and contagious smiles. These hugs and smiles were not only given by the children, but were given out by the parents, teachers and elders of the community.  Even though there is a language barrier, it doesn’t matter.  You feel the sense of family from everyone you meet.  When you arrive you are a stranger, who is welcomed with open arms.   When you leave, you are saying good-bye to extended family members.

During my first visit in October 2011, I was blessed to have met Gladis, Sonia and Evelyn in El Molino.  Personally, Evelyn touched my heart. Before I left, she gave me a paper cut out of a horse she colored and a little plastic green heart for me to keep.   I still have these keepsakes and I will treasure them forever.

On my second trip to Guatemala In January 2012, I am now part of a new team of volunteers to work on a new school in Panicuy.  As we arrive in Panicuy.

Our WELCOME is repeated as it was in EL Molino.  Hugs and smiles from everyone in the community. At Panicuy, my daughter Jenaka experienced a ‘moment’ with a 9 year old named Elizabeth. Her heart was touched in a very deep way, just like my heart was touched with Evelyn.  It is hard to explain in words, but this was a pivotal moment for Jenaka and myself.  As Jenaka’s mom, my heart was touched even deeper, because I experienced her tear’s of happiness and the knowledge of knowing this voluntourism trip touched Jenaka in a very deep way, as her mom this is a memory forever in my heart.

On my trip to January, we were able to return to El Molino.  As soon as I heard that, I knew I needed to find Evelyn.  It didn’t take long and I saw her and shouted out her name.

As soon as she saw me, she shouted my name (Sue-Z, the way she said it, amazed me) and I received the sincerest warm hug imaginable.  Our time was short that day, but precious.  When the bus loaded up to leave El Molino, it was very sad, but happy.  Evelyn blew me a kiss and waved good-bye. As the bus pulled off,  I began to cry.  However, my heart knows that a school has been built for the community and Evelyn’s future looks brighter because I was a volunteer and a part of her world and community during my lifetime.

You must realize, when you are a part of a voluntourism trip, you have joined a part of the World Ventures family, that becomes part of your extended family.  Volunteers on these trips are of the same mindset and the friendships that are created are forever.  I now have friends all over the United States. I can visit, keep in touch and share stories with my extended family.  Many of us are planning to do more voluntourism trips together.

I have learned with foster-care and with volunteering, the best gift to give is your time.  Many of us take a vacation and go somewhere to swim, ski and be a tourist.  However, try a voluntourism trip and your life will change in so many positive ways.  Unless you take a voluntourism trip, it is hard to explain what happens to your heart.  I have been fortunate to go on 3 Voluntourism trips in 6 months, this has changed my soul.  I am looking forward to leaving the corporate world, which will allow me the time and freedom to follow my passion.

Thank you World Ventures, Manifest Foundation, Hug it Forward.  I receive vacation-time from my employer and my next trip will be a Voluntourism trip again, join us.

Personal thanks to Zach, Joshua, Heenal, Juan Ma, Gerson (the Serve The World Today team)….. you make a voluntourism trip possible and in a very safe way.