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Kristen & Joe: Voluntourism

I took some time away from my blogs, but now I need to get back to them.  There’s too much to say and I have some catching up to do.  To update everyone, Joe and I came back to the US  just before Christmas.  Our minds were very heavy with everything that we experienced.  The first part of our journey was…well… fun.  We saw many beautiful places, had great food, and met wonderful people.  We learned a TON of history and were taught about injustices of this world that have since been righted.  The second part of our trip was the most memorable, however.  Spending time in third world countries really changed us.  I would not describe it as fun.  Interesting, yes.  An adventure, yes.  But how is getting scammed fun?  How is watching bodies being burned along a river (I will post my India blog shortly) fun?  How is watching people an animals starving to death before your very eyes fun?  The very same injustices we heard about in Europe were being played out in front of us.  Starvation, poverty, disease, corruption, and death all were horrors that we got to experience first hand on a level we were never intimate with before.

We had to come back with ever-present questions ringing through our brains “What now?” ” How do we go back to a normal existence after seeing all that?”  “How do we walk away from that knowing it exists?”  The answer was, we couldn’t.  Our sense of “normal” was forever changed.  Our perceptions were forever altered.

We emailed our missionary friends in Guatemala to see if they could use volunteers.  They could, and after a couple of months of respite in our hometown of Tallahassee, Florida (which was badly needed by the way), we headed off to Guatemala, where we are at now.

Joe, my husband, knew what he wanted to do right away.   Porch de Salomon (the mission team we are working with) works to build houses for the indigenous Mayan population where poverty is, unfortunately, the norm.  He works on the construction site and also likes to juggle and do magic for kids who live a mundane existence.  Many children can’t go to school and have to work all day to put a little food on the table.  They love it when people play with them.  I am still trying to figure out my niche, but in the meantime, I’m taking Spanish lessons and volunteering at a local school, as well as supporting Porch wherever needed.  We are having a blast!!   To check out Porch de Salomon go to:

I also want to encourage people to get out there!!!!!  If you are involved in a church, go on a mission trip.  If you aren’t, there plenty of voluntourism options available.  Voluntourism is a type of travel that merges sightseeing in a different country with helping the local communities.  The humanitarian activities could be working with children at schools or orphanages, constructing homes or schools, working with endangered animals, working with the environment, and many more.  Voluntourism also varies greatly on its level of luxury, so I believe, there’s something for everyone.  Some people just can’t get away or can’t afford to, and that’s ok too.  Usually there’s many opportunities in your hometown to get involved.  Do what you can.  If it’s only an hour every so often, do it.  But, be warned, volunteering can be VERY addicting!

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