Distance between people, doesn’t mean you can’t be close to their hearts! Two thousand six hundred eighty two miles is exactly how far I live from Colegio of Santa Elena (‘colegio’ means secondary school for those like me who don’t speak a lot of Spanish). But all those miles do not come close to how big my heart has grown for these young adults I’ve had the privilege to work alongside with this week. I say young adults because on this day of our trip I saw the power of compassion and love from these students who have really only known me and my fellow team members for only a couple of hours.

Derek and Wes working with students and parent to build bench for forest trail

Working alongside and bonding really made me feel a connection, but I was soon overwhelmed with doubt thinking if our team had made an impact to develop relationships with these amazing young adults. But just as the rain from the night before washed the streets clean, my doubts were soon washed away in discovering these aspiring young leaders were excited to see us again and said they wish we had more time together.

Seeing that this was the last day at the school I will miss all the new faces I met but cherish the memories. For many reasons I will remember this day for the rest of my life, I will also always remember “Echa pa lante”, which means ‘move forward’ or ‘go on’. The teachers, students, and community of Colegio of Santa Elena will always hold many miles in my heart. Echa pa lante to a new day.

Entry submitted by: Wes


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