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A Birthday, A Mission Trip, A Smile :)

This spring break was filled with many memories. The taste of aguas frescas from an east Austin bakery, the sounds of prayer and happy birthday songs. The feeling of being loved. After a hectic first half of the semester, I thanked God for whoever had the crazy wonderful idea to invent a week were students got a break from school.
Mission Trip that Changed my perspective

I had the pleasure of going on a missions trip in east Austin with different student groups from InterVarsity Fellowship. I was one of the only students not directly involved in a ministry and I knew only one student, my friend Fiona. By the second day, that all changed I began talking with some of these students learning their dreams, passions and sharing our similar spiritual beliefs. All throughout my college career, I have become apart of communities in organizations, amongst friends and now in InterVarsity. Its an amazing feeling to witness all of the diverse people working together.

Dancing up a storm!

Dancing up a storm!

A professional break dancer/motivational speaker!

A professional break dancer/motivational speaker!

Chelsea, Lucy, Maureen (Our wonderful host), Valerie, Fiona and I

Chelsea, Lucy, Maureen (Our wonderful host), Valerie, Fiona and I

Rest and Relaxation

When you hear the word “mission trip” you probably think work. While we did work a lot, we learned the importance of resting. As college students we fill our schedules with meetings, study groups and other commitments but we also need to schedule in resting time so that we will be able to handle everything that life throws at us.
I left on Saturday and spent Sunday resting and relaxing with the wonderful people on the trip. The park scenery was beyond beautiful and the sun shining at just the right temperature provided just the right warmth for the soul. We spent the entire day talking, playing sports, sleeping, going to church and just taking a break to enjoy each others company. In the evening, we had a solidarity meal of pita bread and black beans to recognize the hunger and poverty that is going on in the world. 
Like a little sister

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday was spent implementing a program called “Step Up” for a variety of grade level middle school east Austin children. We spent our time playing sports, doing art work and dancing with the children.
In my personal experience, I am not good with children but a 12 year old girl named Kaileigh became my friend during the three days. She moved here from New York and was having a hard time making new friends. I loved listening to her stories about her teachers and we share a mutual disliking for math. Her dreams were to become a vet and travel to Italy. She often practiced her Italian accent and talked about all the delicious foods she’d eat once she got to Italy. I enjoyed our vibrant conversations, daily laughter and attempts and triumphs at dancing. Who would have known that one person could literally change my life in a matter of three days.

Right hand corner with the Black and White beanie is Kaileigh :)

Right hand corner with the Black and White beanie is Kaileigh :) Rebaca, Fiona, Valerie and Loren.

Its so hard to say goodbye

After three days of dancing the wobble, drawing art and playing sports and games, none of the college students or the children wanted to leave. We took photos, spoke to parents and gave hugs while hoping that we would be able to do this next Spring Break. Many people think you have to volunteer internationally to make an impact on the world, when the truth is there are communities waiting to be impacted right in your backyard. These students in East Austin come from a very similar background as I do.  Telling  Kaileigh that she can achieve her dream of becoming a vet no matter what obstacles stand in her way, I can only hope it sparked a fire in her to succeed.

Our wonderful Step Up family :)

Our wonderful Step Up family :)

A little bit of birthday in my life

The Friday before spring break I celebrated my birthday by volunteering at International Women’s Day event hosted by my friend Paulina  and eating a China Buffet for my birthday dinner. My friends surprised me with a birthday cake, a birthday song and Jorge got me this scrapbook made of memories from our college experience.
After the mission trip ended on Wednesday, I ate birthday breakfast with my mentor Eduardo Gonzalez who was visiting Austin and then I headed to San Antonio on for my birthday. My friends and I toured the city, visited the river walk and had a Friends-inspired photo shoot in the park.
When Spring Break ended, Paulina and I went to Sushi Sushi for a late birthday celebration. 21st birthday with great friends, great times and great memories. I’ve been told that this is the end of the “fun” birthdays but I doubt it. Each year is what you make it. Life just keeps getting better and better.

Happy birthday to me!

Happy birthday to me!

The first page of my Scrapbook Jorge gave me.

The first page of my Scrapbook Jorge gave me.

"Friends" Me, Jorge, Ira, Juan, Polly and Hugo.

"Friends" Me, Jorge, Ira, Juan, Polly and Hugo.

I finally saw the Alamo!

I finally saw the Alamo!

We didn't get on the Tower but we played tag in the park.

We didn't get on the Tower but we played tag in the park.

The Riverwalk was full of people!

The Riverwalk was full of people!

Things to take away:

-Take a break. No, really…put the computer down, put your schedule away and breathe. You will be thankful you did.
-Don’t worry about things you can’t change. This is a tough one, we often fret about a bad grade or spending money but there is no use in crying over spilled milk.  Just do better.
-Give your spiritual life a boost. Don’t forget that that’s what keeps you centered. Whether its prayer, walks or church, engage your spiritual life and you will be at peace with your physical life.
-Smile. Nothing beats a smile, its your greatest accessory.
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March 23, 2012 | | Comments are closed for this post
photo of Jelisa