Diving Out of Our Comfort Zone -Reflections on Volunteering in Chile
Written by Aura’s House Summer Intern, Elise Cevetello:
In life there are some experiences that are defining. They change our character for the better and allow us to grow in new directions. A couple of years ago I took a trip to Chile. The time I spent there was difficult. We had no electricity or indoor plumbing. We heated water to wash with by painting water bottles black and leaving them in the sun. Some of us were lucky enough to have a roof to sleep under while the rest camped outside.
Sharing and giving were central themes during my stay. It was a life that I wasn’t used to and I was too distracted by my immense surprise at the newness of everything to be proactive. My experience abroad sparked a great deal of reflection and consequently my persona was altered forever. The time that I spent in Chile helped to shape who I am today and motivated me to do what I can for others though means such as being an Aura’s House contributor.
The ministry group I journeyed with was building a retreat center for children in the Andies Mountains. We wanted to provide a place for kids who were typically overburdened with far too much family, household and adult type responsibilities to just be kids. By watching people twice my age act like children, dropping the tasks in front of them so that they could wholeheartedly join in the lighthearted games of the kids, I learned to soften my serious persona and let down my guard. They showed me the importance of enjoying life and the little moments, which make it up. Attending the religious services of the group (a faith other than my own) and seeing their unwavering commitment gave me a deeper appreciation for the differences in people while at the same time teaching me that those very differences have similar roots.
Then there is an image of a tremendous waterfall buried deep within the virgin forests, which I did not dare to explore under. To this day I constantly see it in my mind and it pushes me forward past hesitation allowing me to delve into something new or intimidating.
I was so overwhelmed by the goodness in everyone I met, and taken aback by the enormity of the untouched natural world that surrounded me that I remained frozen. I would like to go back in time and physically shake my own shoulders, to wake myself up. I want to dive into the situation in a way that I didn’t back then.
I would like to complete tasks such as building a fence to block the stream from the cows, without complaint, because the happiness I feel from making someone else’s life better is the best possible reward. So now when I see before me opportunities such as being able to intern with Aura’s House I do not let them pass me by but instead I am proud to be an active contributor just like all of you. I hope that everyone is able to dive beneath a waterfall in a way that I once couldn’t.