When we rolled up into the second community we visited, we expected it to be much like the first. We had a set plan of what we wanted to do. But as soon as we stepped off the boat, it was evident that our plans went down the drain. The community of José Olaya was the opposite of everything we had been told. The kids there were anything but shy; they were practically jumping on the boat with excitement as we parked. Without hesitation, they jumped in to play soccer, helped us create a makeshift bowling alley with some old cans, and even taught us one of their favorite games called “kiwi.” They were willing to sing along to any song, dance any dance, and learn any game we proposed.

These kids are the most open kids I’ve ever met. It didn’t matter if what we wanted to do was new and different to them. They gave everything a try. The kids I met there inspired me. I’m the type of person who likes to think I’m open to anything, but the reality is that sometimes I’m not. When God calls me to do anything that’s even remotely outside my comfort zone, I’m very hesitant. The good news is that most of the time I end up following through anyway, but I’m not open to the point where my answer is an immediate yes. I want to be like the kids of José Olaya, open to anything and everything that God has in store for me.

Instead, I usually end up responding like the children of Florida, the first community we visited. These kids were the definition of shy. While they were still excited to spend time with us, they were very wary of anything we proposed. It took them a while to warm up to us. Likewise, I’m the type of person who likes to dip my toe in the water first when others will just jump in. Spending time in both of these communities has shown me just how life changing it is to approach things with openness. Being open allows you to experience so much more than you could ever imagine, because the possibilities are endless when limits are removed.

Each member of our team took a turn to tell their life story each night, and it brought us so much closer together as a team. We were able to dig deeper be open in order to know each other so much better. Openness may seem scary at first, but in my experience it’s always worth it. It would have been easy to stay home this entire summer. I could have worked more hours and rested before my next semester of college. However, I couldn’t be happier that I stepped out and dedicated a month to do missions work in the jungle of Peru. By no means has it been easy, but it’s an adventure like no other.

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