Service Trip September 2006

A Reflection by Esther Bridger

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I wanted to go to Guatemala to serve, not just like serving a meal at the soup kitchen, but an experience of giving to those in desperate poverty. Being a Mexican American the Latino culture is close to my heart, and so I was excited to travel to a country where I could speak the language and serve the people. When I got to Guatemala I realized that happiness and poverty could exist in the same place, and that was confusing. Since my parents emigrated from Mexico I have been working to be successful and provide my children with the material things that are a part of the American Dream. Over time I fell into the trap of accumulating things to be happy. And now in the railroad track community I saw people who found their happiness in relationships, not in materialism. I wanted my heart to change as a result of this trip and it certainly did. I learned that there is a gratefulness that comes from loving others and helping meet their needs- spiritual needs, physical needs, and emotional needs. It’s the giving of my heart, not my stuff, that makes the difference. When I returned home I looked at my large, beautiful house with new eyes. Why am I working so hard to have a house that is bigger than

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I need? This question really penetrated my heart when Edgar, one of our friends from Guatemala, traveled to the US and stayed with us. He said to me, “Esther, you live like a rich woman.” Wow. I never thought of myself as rich. I think that this is a process, and God showed me what I needed to change in my thinking. My husband and I eventually sold that big house, and we have been just as hospitable and happy in a smaller home. I have been to serve in Guatemala two times now, and I’m understanding in a deeper way the power of love- I just couldn’t see that living comfortably here in the US.