As we landed in Guatemala, I had very little idea of what the upcoming week had in store for me. I knew we were building a house in a total of 3 days, but I was suspicious regarding just how much work we would actually be doing. My mom and I were expecting a week full of pasta, rice, and crackers, after having the travel nurse thoroughly scare us about all the food we should stay away from. I was also anticipating the bare minimum for accommodations, a bed that I would need to bring sheets for, a cold shower, and maybe if we were lucky, a pillow would be provided.

However, when we got off the plane all my prior expectations were immediately blown away. From the very beginning of stepping out of the airport and meeting Rodrigo, our favorite escort, to Daniel, our jack of all trades for the week, taking our bags and loading them onto the top of the truck I knew I had underestimated what this trip was going to be. When we got to Catalyst Resources International (CRI) I only became more impressed. They had a lovely facility, with fantastic food for every meal, great accommodations (yes, a warm shower) and some of the sweetest people you would ever meet.

As happy as I was to have good food and a comfortable bed the thing that I was really in awe of was the house building. As hard as it is to believe, our team built an entire house from framing to decorative shelves in 3 days. CRI always made us feel safe by constantly having two workers by our side and aiding with the layout of the house as well as some of the harder tasks we couldn’t complete (putting on the roof and installing the windows and doors). In just three days I was a part of one of the most empowering experiences I have ever known. 8 people, 7 of us women, built a house for an impoverished Guatemalan family. They will cherish it for years to come. I do not have the words to describe the pure joy and love I felt that entire week connecting with my fellow team members and the family. It was a once in a lifetime experience and a reminder of all the good that is out there in the world and how much more can be done for one another.

We also got two days of cuddling up to adorable children in two orphanages (Mimi’s and House of Hope in Guatemala, so really how much better could this trip be?