Hi, my name is Alexandra and I am one of the participants on the trip. Today started bright and early at 8:30am where we joined the core group members for breakfast. We had a variety of fruit and toast with Nutella. Following breakfast, we met with Aricelli where she gave us our details on what we were going to be doing this upcoming week. Today’s task was to design and landscape the garden both behind the house and in front of the house. Today had a lot of the dirty work including cutting down plants, weeding and raking. I assisted Moi, one of the core members of the house in picking lemons. While it may seem so insignificant, watching Moi pick these lemons made my heart so full. After cleaning up a lot of the back, we moved to work on the garden in the front. Ivan, one of the core members, came out with a napkin that wrote, “Can I help in the garden with you?” in English. The language barrier here makes it incredibly difficult to communicate with others, however that little note that Ivan worked so hard on made that language barrier just a little bit easier and made me appreciate that little interaction so much. Last night at reflection, we discussed how communication isn’t always verbally and can be shown through just presence or smiling, and that truly has been shown in these past few days with the core members. 

The garden was very difficult to do because we were struggling with where to use our resources and where to place the supplies that we had. As we went, we adjusted our plan and eventually made significant progress. Just as we stepped back to take a snack break, I attended the mission house with two film makers. These past few days, we made friends with two individuals who are creating a video on the L’Arche community and their different programs throughout the world. I volunteered to participate in their video. When I attended the mission house, I watched the two videographers record while one of the group members was creating a bracelet. Watching this member create a bracelet and looking at all the other bracelets that he has created showed me the talent of some of these individuals. I feel as though I sometimes lack creativity and the ability to artistically express because our society constantly spends so much time on social media and phones. As I reflected individually, I hope to spend more time at home away from electronics and allowing my inner creative side come out. 

To end the night, we walked downtown to get donuts, ice cream and watch the sunset. It was so comforting to sit and look at the sky and talk to different members of the group. We ended reflection with talking about values vs identity. Reflection was a little lengthier last night because we had so much to reflect on and talk about! 

One of the really cool parts of working with the core members is seeing how helpful and how willing to help they are. When a new guest arrives, José is always one of the first people up and ready to let someone in the doors. Moi, is always ready to make a cup of coffee or get a snack for someone. While we are on a service trip ourselves, I have learned so much from all of the members and I cannot wait to see what the rest of the week holds!

Ivan asking to help us in the garden