As part of one of their missions, Xavier High School students and faculty on a recent service trip to Guatemala presented care packages to local families.
You can always count on this: those receiving the non-perishable food items and cleaning supplies are joyful, thankful and welcoming. Such was the case this year, and one family also responded in a way that typifies the people encountered by the Xavier contingent of about 20 students and three faculty members that returned to school on Feb. 24 after nearly a week in Guatemala.
“We go to these houses,” Assistant Director of Campus Ministry and Religion Teacher John Guinan said. “And one family said we do need this, but we know of another family that needs it more. You see this immense selflessness.”
The Xavier team also helped build two houses while there.
“At the end we presented the family in a bit of a ceremony, and one mother said she had prayed for this day and up until now it was only a dream, only a prayer,” Guinan said. “And now you all have been an answer to a prayer. She did that while wiping away tears. Her husband said a few words and broke down in tears.”
Senior Kaden Powers had not been on the Guatemala trip before this year.
“We got to see firsthand how much impact we can have on someone’s life,” Powers said. He wrote in a journal and kept a photo diary.
“I know I’ll have the visuals,” Powers said, “But I want to try to keep the experience and feelings by building better relationships, and take the humility and respect the people have and put it into my daily life.”
At the end of each day there were nightly devotions and small groups.
“We all talked about this,” Wes Harris said. “One of the biggest things everyone took away from the trip was thankfulness is something we all have to work on, as well as simplifying life and not getting caught up in the little things because these people live in much worse conditions than we’ll ever see here in America. If we get caught up in material things, and the competition for power and wealth, things like that, it will lead us not to be as happy as we think we will be or society promises we will be if we go to college, get a good job, make a lot of money.”
Guinan had a message for the Xavier students at the end.
"I said to our students on the last day, that you came here thinking you would change people's lives, and you have, but equally these people have changed your lives,” Guinan said. “You have been humbled by them and ultimately you've been humbled by seeing the truth of Jesus Christ, that it is in the simple lives of relationships and faith that you find true happiness."
Brother John Sullivan, C.F.X., and teacher David Applegate also went on the trip. One of Brother John’s roles at Xavier is taking photos throughout the year for the yearbook, so he brought back many images. Those will live on, but so too will the memories etched in the minds of the Xavier students.
-- By Jeff Otterbein