I went on my first mission trip this past year. I went with a group from my church to Camotan, Guatemala. We have a church member, David Byrd, who is a missionary there. We flew out at 8:00 A.M on December 29. This was the longest that I’ve been away from my mom or my nieces and even though I knew it would just be a week, it was hard. Especially with my mom having just beat cancer this year. But anyways, we landed in Atlanta at around 9 A.M. Our layover in Atlanta wasn’t bad. We just went through security and some of us ate breakfast before we got on the plane. The plane ride from Atlanta to Guatemala was three and a half hours. Which isn’t bad compared to traveling to some places. When we arrived, I exchanged $40 that my boss gave me and told me to exchange it for quetzals to hand out to people. Then David and his wife Vicki were there with the bus. The bus was really nice inside. My whole family joked before we left that it wouldn’t have a top on it and would have rusted out seats. But it was much better than that! We even had a driver! The bus ride took about 5 hours but we stopped for McDonald’s on the way there. I’ll be honest, I was extremely nervous to eat it but it was better than our McDonald’s here! I ate a double cheese burger and fries and it was amazing. When we got close to David and Vickie’s house, the bus driver took us to our hotel which was surprisingly nicer than we all thought it would be. It was called Hotel Ramirez in Jocotan, Guatemala. It was a gated hotel and all of our rooms had air conditioning. After checking out the rooms, we all went to David’s for supper. This night was a Thursday and we had homemade chicken soup. We also got to meet David and Vickie’s grand kids this night. Brayden is 7, Brent is 6, and Brianna is 3! They were the sweetest things and definitely helped with me missing my nieces. Then we were all tired so David took us back to our hotel and we took showers and went to bed. I also had a different letter to open every day from my friends and family. They were super special to me as it felt like a piece of home. My sister Kirstie put that together for me and I loved it! My first letter was from her and my mom. Also that night we realized that our hotel had wifi so I could Facetime my mom and nieces! The next morning, we had to be ready by 6:45 A.M. That wasn’t too bad for me because I’m usually already up. When David got there to get us we walked out to the street and saw his pickup truck sitting there. As we all just kind of stared in confusion he said “well, hop in!” We stood in the back of this pickup truck(luckily there were bars around the bed) as we drove up a mountain. But it was also pouring down rain and only one side of my shirt got soaked for some reason. But when we got to the village of Pastor Israel none of that mattered. The looks on his children’s’ faces were completely and totally worth it! They smiled just because. They didn’t need a reason. I think this was the first time I’d ever seen true happiness. Like just happiness just because. They didn’t even know that we had brought them gifts. After the preacher and his family had cooked, all of the kids in the “children’s program” came to their house. They had a chicken and vegetable soup and tortillas. Some kids were scraping their bowls. Then I happened to look up and notice a little boy standing by the gate that goes into their home. I looked over and asked James why he wasn’t eating. He said I don’t know but I’m going to ask. He came back over and said that he couldn’t eat because he wasn’t “part of the children’s program”. That just really tore mine and James’ hearts in two. I don’t care if a child is “part of a program” or not. I’m not gonna stand there and watch him watch these other kids eat not knowing when the last time he got to eat was. And neither was James. He marched right back over there and said well it’s a special occasion and he might not eat when I’m not here but I am here so he will eat. And by golly that little boy ate! And he didn’t leave a drop either. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that about James. He has a true heart of gold and would give anyone the shirt off of his back. After we served the kids, we quickly downed our sandwiches as we were anxious to get back to these kids, some of which were huddled around the room watching us eat because they’d never seen a sandwich before. We then headed right down the road to the church and set up for our puppet show. The kids loved it! I was the daughter, Lucy. Adam was the dad, Kimberly was the mom, and Andrew was the son, Raul. The puppet show was called I love you daddy. When we finished the puppet show we made the puppets sing to entertain the kids while Kimberly got the next activity ready. Which was giving the kids their little treat bags and blankets! The kids sat at their seats patiently while we compared our flip flops to their little muddy feet to make sure they would at least somewhat fit them. The giggles as they opened their little goody bags was worth everything in that moment. I remember thinking back to the countless nights of working two jobs to get there and thinking it was worth every single second. I’ll have the sound of those giggles in my memory forever. Something I’ll never forget.. There was one particular boy who had big chocolate brown eyes, a striped collard shirt, and patches on the knees of his pants. He was a cute little thing. Susan came over to me and said we forgot him. I said what? She said we forgot him and he was just sitting there without anything. My heart just broke even more. In most of America, a little kid who was left out of something would be sure to let someone know right away. But this little boy just sat there. I still wonder what was going through his head. Was he thinking why am i different? Why am I the only one who didn’t get one? Or was he thinking that it was normal? Or did he not even know what to think because maybe he’s never gotten anything like this? I still think about what if we hadn’t seen him? Would he have just ran home smiling with the other kids still beaming with excitement that someone came to see him? That is a moment I will never forget. But I do love the picture I keep in my head of his glowing face when he saw his blanket. It made me think of the kids who open clothes or maybe even a toy they didn’t want on Christmas and just toss it to the side as the family laughs. But this little boy got a blanket. A tool to keep him warm and he made the same face I made when I got a motor scooter for Christmas when I was little. That very moment changed how my kids will view Christmas. They will be very aware that not every child has the things they do. And I don’t plan on giving my children every material thing that they want either. So after the kids got their treat bag and blankets James and a little boy whistled at each other as they all ran the opposite direction that we were driving. Those little feet just running as fast as they could, dust flying as they were just dying to get home and play with those little toys or snuggle up with their little blankets. It was a heart wrenching day that was full of emotions but it was an amazing day at that. After that, we drove back down the mountain in the back of the pickup truck and went back to our hotel to take showers and get ready for supper. That night we had lasagna and it was amazing! Then had our devotion which I believe was Andrew’s night and played with the kids. Then David took us home to rest up for our next day!