After a few bumps along the way, we have finally made it to the beautiful country of Guatemala! This morning, Tess, CJ, Adrian, and I woke up at 4:00 a.m. in my house to quite a few inches of snow. I mentioned to the others that I have never driven in snow, but they hesitantly jumped into the car with me...or so I thought. CJ hadn't quite made it into the car by the time I started backing up. After a flurry of screams (and some laughs), I stopped the car and CJ climbed in. Don't worry Mrs. Olesky, your son is perfectly fine! After sliding into a parking spot on campus, we loaded our bags and were on our way to the airport!
I sat on the plane next to CJ and Tess. As we were preparing for our naps, one of the pilots came over the speaker system and told the passengers that a group on the plane from Xavier University was going to Guatemala for a medical mission trip. He explained all that we will do while in Guatemala, and a passenger in the front of the plane started clapping. Before we could even register that this announcement was about us, the entire plane erupted in applause. Tess, CJ, and I looked at each other, stunned at what just happened. We did not come on this trip for applause or praise; we came to help others in need, others less fortunate than us. However, this applause...for us...made it all become so real.
At 9:00, we arrived in Atlanta with only a few minutes to spare before our flight to Guatemala. We must have been a hoot to watch running through the airport! We got to our gate in just the nick of time. We boarded, and then we were off on a three-hour flight to Guatemala City! I sat next to two of the nicest gentleman on the plane. One lives in Philadelphia but is from Guatemala. During the flight, some of us were practicing our Spanish, and he would kindly interrupt and tell us the correct way to pronounce a word or would help us translate English words to Spanish. Eventually, he put in his headphones, which were playing his music incredibly too loud. And before I knew it, he started to sing out loud! He continued for pretty much the rest of the flight. I couldn't help but smile at this man's carefree ways. He consoled me when I started to cry while watching The Odd Life of Timothy Green. As we landed, he turned to me with a smile from ear to ear, and exclaimed, "Welcome to my home country!" I couldn't have asked for a better welcome. These men on our flight gave me a glimpse of just how kindhearted the people of Guatemala can be.
We breezed through customs, and finally walked out of the airport onto the soil of Guatemala. As we walked out, we saw hundreds, and I am not exaggerating, of people waiting to meet their loved ones. They were hooting and hollering, jumping up and down, and waving their arms. They seemed so happy. As a frequent flier to and from home in Atlanta, I often see people waiting for their loved ones when I leave the airport. Only I never really notice if they are happy or not. They usually have straight faces. Here, however, I became happy just seeing the pure joy on these faces.
We met our two vans and split up into two groups. Our driver climbed on top of the van and took each of our suitcases and strapped them on top of the van. We each had at least two suitcases, so this was a sight to see! We stopped to get food, and then took off on the three hour (or so) drive to our hotel. Our whole van fell asleep for most of the ride. We were so tired! However, when we were awake, the sights were AMAZING. If I could post all of the pictures we took just from today, I would, but I can't! Sorry!
Around 6:30 we arrived at our hotel. Right away, Sara was bombarded with lovely women trying to sell her a scarf. Sara just did not want one though, so the lady moved on to Tom, who bought two. We went to our rooms. The three boys are in one room, Malia, Adrain, and Grace are in a room, Katie, Sara, and Julia are in a room, Tess and Steph are in a room, and Ashley and I are in a room. The rooms are so much greater than what we expected. We each get our own bed, and the bathrooms are phenomenal, but we won't be spending much time in our rooms.
After dinner, we had our first reflection that I thought went very well. We went out to walk through the streets and learn about where we are staying. Rabbi told us where the greatest places to shop were and where the most expensive merchandise is. While out, we got to meet our two translators. These girls are in their early teens and are the cutest and so sweet. As we were meeting them, they just stood there and smiled. We cannot believe that these young girls are working in the world at such a young age. I am looking forward to getting to know them so much better throughout the week. After a small tour, and a small explanation on where not to go, we all decided it was time to hit the hay. After all, we did travel for quite a few hours today!
As I sit here typing, Adrian just came down to inform us she just flooded her room because she forgot to unplug the shower cap...this is going to be an entertaining week! ha!
As you can see, we are having a BLAST. I hope you enjoy our blog and love all the pictures! I am sending love from each person in our group. Malia says hello to all her younger siblings! And I miss you Mom, Dad, and Ty! Love you all!