By Mariel Turner
On my trip to India this past summer, we were working with a school in Stok. While there, we built an additional classroom for the kids and teachers, so they could stay warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. The building process was very challenging; a lot of cement had to be mixed, numerous cinder blocks had to be carried over long distances, and many heavy bags of dirt had to be collected. However, with the dedication, hard work, and effort from my leaders, group members, and myself, we completed the task. And it was beautiful.
We were not there solely to build a classroom, but also to foster relationships in the community. There was one day towards the end of the project when the swing my friend built as a side project was completed. The kids had never had anything like it, so they were curious and overjoyed to try it out. Three little girls who go to the school, all siblings, rushed over at once. After we helped them on to the swing, and pushed them back and forth, laughter and joy rang through the trees for the next hour. Seeing these little girls squish their tiny bodies onto the wooden seat of the swing set made me feel so wonderful. Watching them giggle, swinging back and forth, kept a smile on my face for the rest of the day.
The truth is, the experiences on an RLT trip last far longer than the trip itself. Over my three summers with RLT, I know this to be true. You remember the littlest moments, like cleaning turpentine off of the hands of a Costa Rican school boy, because they got a little messy when he was helping paint the walls of the school building. Or assisting a young Kuna girl write “water” in her notebook, and having her smile wide after she finished tracing the “r”. You remember these little moments forever because they are genuine; they are real. Your connection to another person is so true it ceases to matter that you are from such different places, such different lives. In those moments, you’re just people and you are fundamentally joyful. They are more than just the little moments they appear to be because of the heart and passion behind them.