So now that you’ve read all about my Guatemala trip–and if you haven’t, you’re getting ahead of yourself, read this!–I’m really missing two wonderful ProWorlders who just returned to the USA, Haley and Niki. When they arrived along with Jamie (who is thankfully still here) in early June, we all connected pretty rapidly, and having to say goodbye yesterday was the worst.
The awesome thing in the midst of this sad goodbye is the knowledge that ProWorld continually brings in great people–people like Haley and Niki, who are brave beyond their years and who have some of the world’s most beautiful hearts for service. I am hoping hoping hoping that both of these wonderful women keep their Belize experiences close to them, and allow their time here to shape their behaviors and decisions at home in the US. Just to give you an idea of what makes them so awesome…
Niki came to Belize with such enthusiasm and positivity. From day one, she was all energy and excitement! I know that she was scared, not just at the start of her time here, but many times throughout her month in Belize, but she never let fear take over, and instead chose to embrace so many new opportunities with grace and warmth. She became so close to her homestay family that they now refer to her as their daughter and sister. She calls her homestay hosts “Mom and Dad,” and plans on staying in touch with them and maybe even visiting them for the renewal of their wedding vows, which they’ll celebrate in a couple of years. Niki discovered pretty quickly that her tasks as a holistic health intern wouldn’t always (or often) be set in stone, and that some days she wouldn’t know exactly what she was supposed to do. Without ever whining, she took those opportunities to engage with her family, and to learn about traditional Mayan life in the very best way possible–by living it! She lessened her dependence on technology, and increased her appreciation for the simple and the homegrown. She also became my dear friend and confidante, a provider of general comedic entertainment, fellow Disney song lover, and talking buddy…because the two of us are both very good at talking! I am so very excited that I got to meet her, and so pumped about what she’s going to do with her life. While I don’t think she knows exactly what it is, I am certain that it will be awesome, and passionate, and motivated by a true servant’s heart.
Haley is an absolute champ for taking on some very unexpected circumstances here in Belize and embracing them in spite of herself. The youngest of our posse at 19, Haley is one of the strongest people I’ve known, and I admire her courage in coming to such an unusual place at such a young age. I know that she had rough days while she was here, but she always kept a smile on her face and found reasons to be thankful, AND in the midst of her volunteer hours and general adaptation to Belizean life, she found time to complete regular six-mile runs because she’s a varsity cross country monster! Self discipline is one of Haley’s many impressive strengths. On a personal level, the girl can make the rest of us crack up until we’re on the floor with her random outbursts of song and her infectious laughter! She has become a friend and an encourager to me, a book buddy, and an inspiration!
I learned so much about myself from getting to know Niki and Haley, and saying goodbye to them was, like I said, the worst. While Jamie and I were in Guatemala, we repeatedly mentioned them as we noticed things they would like or things that would make them laugh or moments when we wished they were still in Belize with us, but alas. One of the English Lake poets, Robert Southey, delivered one of my favorite quotes about friendship: “No distance of place or lapse of time can lessen the friendship of those who are thoroughly persuaded of each other’s worth.” Haley and Niki have become so dear, and though no “lapse of time or distance of place” will change that, I hope that we end up reunited sooner rather than later! I believe that God sends every person into our lives for a reason, and I consider myself so very blessed to have met so many wonderful people through ProWorld, especially these two gems! Gracias a Dios!