It’s late March, I’m supposed to be at a high school gymnasium to coach a basketball game in ten minutes and instead I’m consulting with a graphic designer to ensure our official team t-shirts for our LiveDifferent Hero Holiday project are exactly what we had ordered. ‘Raising the Roof from the Rock to the Republic’ – yes, that would be us. Short sleeve, white lettering, black, cotton tees. And so begins the story of the sisterhood of the traveling t-shirts.
There are events in everyone’s lives at one point or another where you know your life has taken a turn and probably will never be the quite the same again. One of those moments for me was back in 2011 when I signed up for my first LiveDifferent Hero Holiday. It is safe to say the experience certainly lives up to its name – ‘LiveDifferent’, as your life will most likely never be the same again after you have experienced the joy of building a house for a family and a community in need. The only thing that I can think of that would be better than this would be to share in that joy with nine of your closest friends – so here we are, all the way from the Rock to the Republic.
June 23 2013 – Day 1. Today was absolutely amazing. We started up the morning with a visit to Pastor Garcia to see first hand how one person can have such a lasting impact on the lives of others. The Pastor has reformed this tiny rural village into a sanctuary of hope – provided a place of worship, a place to learn and most of all place to move forward into a future with hope.
The afternoon carried us into the renamed town of Neuvo Renacer where we met the beautiful Ms. Sandra. Together with LiveDifferent, Sandra has helped flip this impoverished town into a place of new birth – a place where 48 new houses now stand where dilapidated shacks once stood. Our team had the opportunity to tour the town, see some of the work that has been done to date and meet Paulina, the lady who we will be building for. What a beautiful spirit. Our team was so impressed with the genuine feeling of love and joy that seemed to envelope the town despite the deplorable conditions they were faced with each day.
As I sit and reflect on day one, I feel it is ironic that we will begin work tomorrow in a town that has been renamed the English equivalent of ‘New Birth’. Perhaps that new existence will be instilled in each of us as we look at our lives throughout this project. The sisterhood of the traveling t-shirts signed on to give to a people who have so little, and to create change in the lives of others. I have a funny feeling that we will leave this trip with much more than we came here with and the greatest change we see will be rooted deep within our own souls from this day forward.
Toothbrushes for village kids– check. Box of handmade dresses from the Holyrood Women’s Institute – check. Towels and bed sheets for host family – check. When one leaves home on a humanitarian venture blissful thoughts run through our heads on the joy we will bring with all the goods we bring from home to share with our less fortunate sisters.