“In America we worry about the latest fashion trends, having the newest electronics, and what others think of us,” RMU freshman Christine Smith said. “None of these things were a worry in Guatemala, and I loved it.”
Smith traveled to Guatemala as a part of the Weirton Covenant Church’s mission trip during the summer of 2015. Even though she has wanted to go on a mission for many years, this journey was her first opportunity to participate in one. She joined the group of 11 others for a week in the village of Altamira where they built a church and a house, helped feed the hungry, and spent time with children recovering at the local hospital.
“My trip changed my entire life,” Smith said. “I participated in a baby rescue—taking a malnourished child and his family to the hospital to receive treatment.” Events like this made a big impression during her short time there, and the influence on her was still powerful after returning home.
“After coming back, I really struggled to fit back into the American lifestyle,” Smith said. “Children are dying from malnourishment, and we just throw extra food away. The lifestyles are just completely different. Life is much simpler in Guatemala.”
Being away from home changed Smith’s view of the world, and while she missed her family and loved ones, the country affected her deeply. She felt like she wanted to stay.
“If I could have stayed longer, I absolutely would have,” she said. “I learned so much about the culture and how life is so simple yet a struggle at the same time.” This experience helped Smith start her first year at RMU with a changed perspective, and she sees that her chosen major is better suited for her than she imagined.
“I am a nursing major, and I now have a strong motivation to get through school and go back to Guatemala in the future for a medical mission trip,” Smith said. She plans to return on another mission trip in June of 2016. The group is looking for additional participants, and she is recruiting anyone that is interested.
“I want others to be able to experience the amazing things I did,” Smith said. “I want to take as many people with me as possible. If someone would like to learn more about the trip, they can contact me.”