“For love truly knows no borders”- unknown
As I have grown up, seeing the world has constantly been a top priority. While planning various expeditions, I always unintentionally imagine what activities will be like and what the place I am going to will look like prior to my getaway. I have discovered that the reality of these situations and experiences are ALWAYS profoundly different than the image I build up in my mind.
Such was true In the summer of 2014, when I made the decision to spend a week in El Salvador with various friends. While the purpose of this trip was to share our faith in Christianity, there were various other experiences that will stand out in my memory for a lifetime.
I’ve come to learn that memories are one of the most valuable things I can possess. One experience, which surpassed my imagination, was hiking the San Salvador Volcano. Standing in awe at the top of it, out of breath from having climbed so far, and peering into the crater in the center where lava once flowed made me contemplate how small I truly am. These moments when we feel as limited as I felt at this juncture often come when we face something so marvelous, and out of the ordinary.
On the last day of the journey, several days after the volcanic hike, the peak of the trip (and quite possibly my summer) occurred. My friends and I were expected at an El Salvadorian high school where we would go into the classrooms there, and socialize with the students. Before we went into the classrooms we were waiting in an outdoor courtyard in the high school.
I saw out of the corner of my eye a girl, around my age, twirling a baton amateurishly. I was thrilled to see her because I was, many years prior to this trip, a competitive baton twirler. Up until this point in the journey, I had faced a constant struggle with trying to participate with the El Salvadorians because I did not speak their language. I knew that this baton was my way to befriend this girl, who’s only language was one that I was ignorant to. I worked up the nerve and boldly left my group and approached her, politely asking her if I could borrow her baton; she gave it to me, and I began to teach her.
It was extraordinary how we hadn’t said an understandable word to each other, yet through this shared passion of baton twirling I was able to share my abilities, laugh with her, and build a friendship in a way I never had before. I experienced a human interconnectedness that language had not provided, “for love truly knows no borders”- unknown.
About a half-hour later, a translator approached us, she asked me a bundle of questions about America and I asked her a bundle of questions about El Salvador. As we wrapped up our conversation she and her friends requested that I performed a baton routine for them, I reluctantly complied and entertained them with one of my old routines (making up the parts I had forgotten over the years). When I finished a friend of mine, Lily, requested that she snap a photo of the girl with the baton and me together. We then said our goodbyes, and her and I left each other with a rare knowledge that this was likely the last time we would ever see one another in this lifetime.
This knowledge made our goodbye so authentic from the ones I have become accustomed to saying out of a traditional habit. Following this trip I found that going outside the boundaries of home and into the unknown borders of unfamiliar places is one of the premium ways for us to flourish, expand our horizons, and no longer be caught up in the tunnel vision that everyday routines can create.