Soulshine

A few years ago (although it feels like yesterday) I went to Mexico.

I know Mexico isn’t a big deal to people, but I had never been out of the country before, so Mexico, and crystal clear blue water, and big, beautiful, smiling Mexican faces quickly captured my heart.

ImageThis is Maria.

When I got to Mexico, our mission was to work closely with an orphanage called Ciudad de Angeles for a week. The first night we got to the orphanage to hang out with the kids, I was freaking terrified. I was that girl who only knew how to say: “no hablo espanol.” Basically, I was screwed. By the time we got there, it was nightfall and the Ciudad staff had set up a bonfire with smores (which is irrelevant, but i love smores.) Anyway, I sat alone as the kids ran around with the veterans who they already knew, slowly getting the sinking feeling that i wasn’t going to bond with any of them over the week, when all of a sudden this shy little girl comes and sits down beside me on a log. I remembered reading about her in our team meetings. Her name was Maria and she was new to the orphanage, along with her two baby sisters, one who happened to be deaf. Out of all of the kids there, they had come from one of the worst homes, and we were warned that they were still pretty shy so we shouldn’t expect too much out of them. When she sat beside me, I was so overwhelmed with joy I just started rambling in my horrible broken Spanish. I even think I told her she was beautiful, which is totally awkward but it was one of the only words I knew. She quietly nodded from time to time, but obviously the conversation was going nowhere, so I did what any desperate person would do: I made her 50 smores and let her play with my brand new expensive camera (which at the end of the week obtained multiple scratches,)

For the rest of the week, Maria was my homegirl.

Image

I think I loved her so much because she reminded me a little bit of well, me.

She was quiet most of the time, and you could tell she was quietly fighting her own battles even at such a young age, but when she opened up to the world, she was a total light to everyone around her. Her smile was completely contagious, and by the end of the week she was one of the funnest kids to be around.

As I sat here tonight stalking travel blogs and volunteering abroad sites, I remember Maria. To be honest, I haven’t thought about Cozumel in a while. But as I type out this post, I’m recalling every memory I made in Mexico and I don’t know if I’ve ever been that kind of happy, since.

There are different things that fill us up in this world. For some reason, everytime I hear Awakening by Switchfoot or a Blink-182 song I start head-banging with happiness. When my best friend Corinne calls me from home to tell me about her “fresh-off-the-boat” Asian professor, I can’t help but laugh until I cry. Or when my awesome friend Andrew randomly texts me to encourage me to keep blogging, I just feel, grateful.

But there is nothing in this world quite like giving your heart, and your time, and your energy to something other than yourself. In reality, those people in Mexico did way more for my heart, than I did for theirs. I’ve always had this drive to understand and feel the pain of people I do not know. Sometimes, I think I might be better at loving the stranger on the street than the people who I am closest to. As bad as this may be, I think its just my lot in life, and so I figured I should do something good with it. Giving my time to someone else, completely takes my mind off of me, and that is one of the most freeing feelings in the world.

I just wrote a novel.

fast forward because these people obviously dig guitar solos.

He used to say soulshine,
It’s better than sunshine,
It’s better than moonshine,
Damn sure better than rain.

Here’s a list my best friend Sarah made for me when I transferred: Sarah, you are special.

  1. Take Showers
  2. Go to Class
  3. Don’t take drinks from strangers
  4. Don’t ever set your drink down
  5. Don’t get in strange cars (even if you’re really tired)

aand my personal favorite,

6. “I’ve heard that the date rape drug is really salty tasting, just fyi”

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