Today is going to be a fun one! Today I want to tell you about an experience that really changed my perspective when it comes to loving others.
When I was in high school, I went on a mission trip to Costa Rica 3 years in a row. Each year we set out to not only volunteer at a local church and school, but also to build a home for a family in need picked out before we even got there.
Now, the home that we built wouldn’t be considered anything special in our eyes. It’s probably about 300 to 400 sq. ft. at most and doesn’t even have a bathroom or running water. Each year when we would give the chosen family their new house and you would've thought they just won the lottery. It was one of the most rewarding and humbling things I've ever been a part of.
During my first year there, I quickly realized how much all of the children in the villages loved us. They would all try and help us paint, help us build, play with us, or just follow us around. There was one girl named Francella that really gravitated to me. She was 8 at the time.
It only takes us about 3 days to start and finish this house, so during those short three days she didn’t leave my side. She was latched on to me the whole time. She painted with me, moved stuff with me, followed me, or held my hand and hugged my side when we were just walking.
I would try and talk to her with the 1 year of Spanish that I had at the time, but she would just look at me and giggle all confused-like. Eventually we stopped trying to talk to each other and just played, laughed, and did hand motions or something.
Before we said our goodbyes, me and Francella took a picture and then I left. I was heartbroken. We both cried a lot. I didn’t know if I would see her again. I hoped that I had made an impact on her just as much as she did on me even though we didn’t speak the same language.
When I went back the next year, my team and I unfortunately didn't get to build in Francella’s neighborhood again, but we did get to go and visit one day. I had printed out the picture of us from the year before, hoping to see her again so I could give it to her. A little part of me was a little nervous to bring it though... What if she didn’t remember?
Once we arrived to Francella's little neighborhood, I remember her skimming all of the faces and then seeing mine. My heart dropped… “Does she remember?” She immediately smiled and ran up to me and squeezed me so tight. She remembered!
I got to visit Francella for about 10 minutes that year. I gave her the printed picture of us from the year before, and that was it. It was so fast and yet we still remembered each other. We took a picture of us two holding the printed photo and then we said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. Such a sweet moment, but absolutely heartbreaking.
The next year rolls around and I decide to go to Costa Rica yet again! What really sold me on going that year was that we were going to be building in Francella’s neighborhood so of course I had to go! I would be able to be with her for three whole days instead of just 10 minutes!!
This time I came prepared. I printed and packed the new updated picture of us from the year before and a few other things to give her. I was so ready and excited to see her.
Once we got to the site, I saw Francella and we picked up right where we left off the year before. She eventually invited me into her house because she wanted me to meet her mom! I invited my friend to come and interpret for me. We ended up sitting and talking for like 45 minutes.
In the middle of her mother telling me how kind I was to her daughter and how much of an impact I had made on her over the years, Francella left the room. When she came back, she was holding the picture I had given her the year before in almost perfect condition. I couldn't help but tear up.
When it came time to say goodbye again, I gave her all of her gifts including our new and updated picture from the year before. She was overwhelmed and so thankful. I could just see it in her eyes. She couldn’t help but show all of the other kids in the village. Then it was time to say goodbye yet again. This was the hardest by far.
I haven’t been able to go back since that last goodbye and there isn't any way to reach her either which breaks my heart, but what I do know is that I am so grateful for Francella. She taught me so much about the power of love, intentionality, and kindness in a way that I never thought was possible.
So why am I telling you this story you ask?
Because....The fact that we didn’t even speak the same language yet had such a strong bond, says something to me. It convicts me of how I can and should love others more here in my everyday life.
We didn’t even speak the same language, yet we knew we cared about each other. We had both made an impact on each other just by the way we interacted and treated one another, without even using words.
The bond between me and that little girl from Costa Rica was stronger than some of the relationships that I have with people just like me, here in my community.
Why is it that we don’t just show any and every one love and kindness before having to even speak a word to them? Why can’t we love everyone with a heart that is not phased, threatened, or suspicious of the other person’s intentions?
I believe if we all loved each other in the same way that Francella and I saw and loved each other, the world would be a nicer and more loving place with no stipulations. How freeing does that sound! I definitely want to love like that more.
Anywho, that's my little story about Francella. I hope it spoke to your soul like it has mine.
- Crystal Horton
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