These past few months have certainly held life lessons for all of us,
and adjusting back to our former routines hasn’t been entirely easy. After having been back in the States for a week or two, we can truly see how this experience has shaped our perceptions, our interactions, and our understandings of ourselves. We can look at a broken shovel and see all of the lives that it has yet to live. We can turn a plastic bag into a shoelace, turn a rock into a hammer, and turn a broken bottle into a watering can. In many ways, we have also come to more personally learn our own faults and shortcomings and how to accept a helpful hand when needed. And, perhaps most of all, we are constantly reminded of the relative extravagance of our lives.
There were times that were frustrating. We struggled with others, with our equipment, and with ourselves. However, throughout it all, we remembered that we were struggling with, which made it all the more worth doing. Now Puni Kotona and Santo Domingo are left with a greater appreciation and comprehension of computer skills and English that will aid them in their future studies, covered gardens that will harbor vitamin-rich vegetables to supplement their diets, chakras de guayusa that should help provide a sustainable supplemental income for the schools, nutrition booklets, compost, and a trash collection system. The desire of the communities truly encouraged these projects, and their efforts will be what continue them. omings and how to accept a helpful hand when needed. And, perhaps most of all, we are constantly reminded of the relative extravagance of our lives.
As Nelson Henderson once said, “The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” It is something to carry with us as we continue our own stories. It was heartbreaking to leave the families we had spent two months of our lives coming to love, knowing that we might never see them again. This experience has certainly impacted our lives as well as theirs, and both parties have learned a great deal. Now, we must just decide which tree to plant tomorrow.