When I sit down with my friends to talk about my fall break service and justice trip to Calhoun City, Mississippi I ask them if they have a good amount of time to hear my stories because all of them are so precious to me and I don’t want to miss a single detail.
Sometimes I feel my recollections don’t do the moments and memories justice. It’s a hard feeling to explain, but I think Martin Luther King Jr. articulated it perfectly when he said:
“Occasionally in life there are those moments of unutterable fulfillment which cannot be completely explained by those symbols called words. Their meanings can only be articulated by the inaudible language of the heart.”
So here is my best attempt to share a story of the trip that will live in my heart forever.
Each day at EXCEL during snack time one of the teachers named Ms. Debbie would ask the service trip participants to share something with the group of students enrolled in the program. On Monday we shared an interesting fact about us, on Tuesday we shared details about our major and life at Creighton, and on Wednesday we shared study tips.
On Thursday Ms. Debbie turned the table and asked the EXCEL students to share something they had learned from the Creighton participant they had worked with throughout the week. I had the pleasure of working with a 4th grader named Jared (changed for anonymity) each day at EXCEL. That Thursday when he was asked to share what he had learned from me he looked down, smiled, then looked up and said, “Marta helped me with my hard homework and we really have a lot in common.” This simple reply warmed my heart. Hearing each EXCEL student share their personal stories about the Creighton participants shook my core.
In only one short week we were able to make such a difference. I felt so proud not only of my fellow participants but the greater CCSJ mission that we represented. After snack time and towards the end of the EXCEL session, Creighton participants and EXCEL students alike were hugging and talking about how much we were going to miss each other. During this farewell Jared put his hand on my forearm and told me that I was beautiful inside and out. It was in this moment that I realized that this whole week and especially in this moment I had been experiencing the Ignatian value of finding God in all things.
I found God in Jared’s heart, the EXCEL teachers’ passion to help the children, the Southern sun, the EXCEL program’s dedication to helping those in need, and the open hearts of my fellow Creighton peers, just to name a few instances. I have also found that this trip and the two other service trips I have been on in the past make me feel so alive and leave my heart burning with the passion and desire to serve others.
Host Site: EXCEL Calhoun City, MS
The CCSJ blogs are meant to be a place for Creighton students, faculty, staff, alumni/ae, and friends to reflect on their experiences with programs sponsored by the office or related to its mission. The views expressed in these reflections, and all other blogs found on or linked to from this website, are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of Creighton University, the Creighton Center for Service and Justice (CCSJ), or any of the University’s affiliates. The University and the CCSJ are not responsible for the actions, content, accuracy, or opinions expressed in these blogs.