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Thursday, February 6, 2003

Tonight is a night that I will never forget as long as I remain here on earth. Simplicity has set in. Everything that I have ever wanted truly doesn't matter anymore. My host father was late coming home from work this evening. That meant that he was late for dinner. As we were all eating dinner, strangly without him, he walks in with his normal tiny jean material bookbag that is clearly for a young elementary school aged child. But, he also had a grocery bag in each hand. My sisters' eyes, as well as my mother's were immediately and directly drawn to the two grocery bags. As he came into full view, it was evident that each bag contained groceries. All at once, all four of my sisters as well as my mother were screaming and jumping up and down with joy and excitement. All of this excitement made me curious as to what exactly were in these bags? Why were they so happy? They seemed like they were the happiest people in the world. What did these contain? In a moment,the truth would be known.

Out of the bags my father, Lolo, pulled out a bottle of vegetable oil, sugar, salt, powdered milk, a box of cereal, and some soap and shampoo. However, their eyes all got really wide and everyone was looking for something else. Oh yes, the flour made its way into his bookbag. Sighs of relief filled the kitchen. He got EVERYTHING!

I sat at the table with tears streaming down my face. Kadina, my six year old sister, noticed my tears in the midst of her excitement. "Erica, que paso?" What happened, what's wrong? How could I possibly tell them my reason for my tears? Nothing, my food went down the wrong way, I am okay.

When my mother in the United States would bring home "Cooler Ranch Doritos" instead of what I really wanted, "Nacho CHEESIER Doritos" I would NOT be pleased. Why? Did I really NEED Nacho Cheesier? Did I actually need any chips at all? My family here is happy that they can barely get the necessities. But me, I want what I WANT, not what I need. There is something wrong with that picture. I am embarrassed to say that was me. As an "American" I can be so incredibly greedy and selfish. Here, what little my family has is mine as well. These people are absolutely amazing. My family is amazing in how they live off of virtually nothing and appear "content." Just to make ends meet is their biggest joy. That, and making sure that all of my needs are met. I definitely have learned more tonight than I ever have in my entire life in the United States.

-Erica Gunden


Today started out like most other days, but on the bus to CASAS something happened that really struck me. When we got on, there were open seats. We all sat down, but soon it was filling up. I was in the back of the bus, which was a row of seats. A mother and daughter came to the back of the bus. The little girl was maybe 6 or 7 and looked like she was dressed for school. I gave them my seat and stood at the back door in front of them. We went probably another 15-20 minutes and the bus was getting really full now; the isle was really crowded. A man in the back got up and I saw him leave, but paid little attention. The next thing I knew, I felt a tugging on my shirttail. It was the little girl and in the same way that I had done, she offered me the seat. Her mother quickly said something, because I guess she thought the girl was bothering me. I didn't know what to say, and a man quickly took the open seat. This struck me because children are so accepting and trusting that they will do what they feel is right, without thinking about what is thought to be correct or what is accepted. I guess this is why we are to come as children, who go on feelings regardless of what they are expected to do. They are so much more accepting than we often are as older people. Also, they respond more warmly as in this case to showing kindness to those they don't even know. This incident has given me a lot to think about.

-Ben Rosenberger


Today, we traveled out towards La Brigada to Hector and Gregoria's, for lunch. After lunch, we gathered outside to listen to Hector's story. He gave a brief background about his parents and family and talked a little bit about his father's work in the Catholic Church.

Then his story started to become more intense as he told about the things that brought about the separation of his family from each other. It was really sad for me to think about being separated from my parents and then for our safety to not communicate often or at all. What would it have really been like to have lived with fear that we couldn't see our family members?

As he continued on, I found myself trying to picture what things were like. With his words, I saw pictures, but still felt like I couldn't imagine these horrible things that happened.

Hector also told about how he met Gregoria and was at first afraid to tell her about his father. Then, when he found out that her father was a catechist as well, he mentioned how surprised he was. Some things, in the midst of a lot gone wrong, just seem to be made to work out.

The way the people in his community and he suffered was truly unjust. It is hard to put myself in their shoes and know how I would feel and act. Things like hiding in the woods, traveling at night, and being spied on would not be easy things to deal with. I think that it is amazing that Hector is able to share his story today. When he was talking about being stopped, questioned, and beaten by the police, I was waiting to hear what unbelievable thing happened that got him out of it. He said later that he thinks he was lucky, but I don't believe in luck. God must have had more for Hector to do for others here. However, then come the tough question; what about those who weren't able to survive the corrupt government (police), why did they have to die for doing nothing wrong?

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