if you want to build a ship, don’t herd people together to collect wood and assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea
-antoine de saint-exupery
[written on Saturday]
what. a. week. we’re on the plane now, and nearly everyone’s asleep. Slouched over in their chairs, leaning against the seat in front of them, resting their heads on a friend’s shoulder; we’re resting. We need rest. We’re exhausted.
But exhausted in the most wonderful way possible. Our bodies are exhausted from days in the sun spent spinning children around in circles “one more time” thirty times, from raking through rocks, from (as Stefanie calls it) “trekking” up a mountain, from piggy back rides and from laughter. But it is our hearts that more need the rest. This week, we’ve experienced the realities of every aspect of Jamaica. We’ve had wheelbarrow races with children on dusty paths, winding between the corrugated tin walls of shanty homes. We’ve eaten KFC at the beach with our Jamaican peers home for spring break. We’ve fed children confined to wheelchairs and tickled children shackled to a diagnosis of HIV. We’ve pulled up hundreds of weeds and collected even more glass shards with eager help from our friends at Ferry.
This week has been an incredible one. This week, the hearts of every single person on the trip amazed us as we spent time at Ferry and the profundity of the perspectives shared during times of reflection humbled us. We had some time on Friday night to talk after dinner, and the conversation settled on what the impact of the trip truly was. We left with the field not entirely finished—it still has some bumps and weeds to attend to. It was hard to leave knowing there was more that could be done to the field. Though as we continued to talk, we were brought back to our friendships with the children again and again. We kept talking about Moses running off with Reid’s glasses and Rihanna finally getting her Neosporin from Dani and Jon giving boxing lessons. We laughed about John and Will being mobbed by children waiting their turn to be swung between them. The more we talked about our friendships—those human connections we made throughout the week, our troubled perspective on the success of the field was slowly calmed. We were too busy being joyful about our friendships to dwell on the challenge of trying to complete a project. And we found peace in knowing that we were in fact leaving behind something complete and even more sustainable. We were leaving behind ourselves. We hurt for the children we met this week; we let their circumstances sink into our souls. And in carrying their reality home with us, in never forgetting how they touched our hearts and how they altered our perspectives, we constructed something so much greater than any physical entity. We affirmed the value of working towards a global community founded on respect and void of judgment or condescension. This week gave faces to those “in poverty.” As Jon said on the last night, the greatest service we could ever hope to do for our friends at Ferry is to carry the impact their friendship has made on us throughout our lives. To use the power afforded to us by our circumstances and opportunities to benefit them. By never, ever forgetting the feeling of Ariel’s hands on our foreheads as we carry her on our shoulders, we honor her. By remembering, we empower.
This week is nearly impossible to synthesize into a readable kind of summary. Because, not to sound too trite, it was truly about friendship, and that cannot be described. The connections made on this trip were so true and real, and it was a blessing to watch them develop throughout the week. We are so grateful that each person was able to be a part of our group, because each one added something truly special to the entire experience. Throughout the week, everyone had his or her moment to shine. We are so thankful that we were all able to share this crazily wonderful week together, and cannot wait to see how the memories and lessons we gained from this week will continue to transform our perspectives.
Thanks for sharing our journey
Until next time,
Tara and Elin