"People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." -Maya Angelou
My favorite quote comes to mind almost immediately when I think back to the kind faces and humble community of El Piché and how they've impacted my life. From our first morning of work, I understood why the campo is such an impactful place of peace where everything is inspiring: the nature that surrounded me, the culture I was exposed to, and the wholly happy people I encountered gave me a different perspective on life. I realized that being submersed in a place where love was made visible through ordinary acts of work developed a sense of purpose in me. So much of what I took away from BLUE Missions has to do with what I witnessed in the passionate volunteers, leaders, and community members. I learned that building love and uniting everyone is a goal that can be achieved through small acts of service and human connectedness. I learned that I can convey BLUE's message without having to use words if I'd be so bold. Special moments in particular taught me the most effective and powerful deeds often come in the form of silent, selfless acts of kindness.
Jesus Maria "Tato" Reyes Herrera, BLUE's Community Coordinator, looked at his roster of volunteers our first day and approached me asking who Lucia Reyes was because he had to tell her they might be related. To his surprise, he was talking to Lucia Reyes. I got to know "Tato" during the nine days we were up in the mountains for his kind heart and knowing smile. I realized he was someone very special when on the last night we came together, I saw him moved to tears as we testified to our last impressions of El Piché despite him not not knowing the language. Although it might have been odd for me then, that I would be related to someone so foreign to me, I realized that kindness could make a stranger feel like family. As I left El Piché "Tato" let me know I would always have family in the Dominican Republic.
Juana, our cook, also taught me that acts of kindness need no words. Her fulfillment came from nourishing us each day and watching the satisfaction on our faces as we enjoyed her delicious meals. For Juana, her happiness and purpose came from serving others. I not only left with the memory of Juana's comforting meals, but inspired with passion to pursue my purpose.
I also experienced first hand how music can bring about unexpected happiness. As I walked back to the chapel after my first morning of work, I encountered an old man who offered me a smile and a song. As his fingers strummed his guitar, I knew that this was his gift to me, a total stranger that had come to work and serve alongside of his community. His song was a calmness that embraced me and I can only describe as perfect peace. We never spoke, no words were needed, but it was one of my happiest moments in the campo.
I am forever grateful to the entire Piché community who extended their overwhelming hospitality and unconditional love, to my incredible leaders for reminding me to live in the moment, and to the rest of my BLUE family for making my first mission one of the most rewarding experiences ever. Because of them I have learned the only way to live is living to serve. I have learned to carry the joy and peace of the people from El Piché with me every single day. I have learned to feel the powerful presence of the campo every single day. Because the truth is I will always remember not what was said or what was done, but the moments that were so deeply felt.