I’m Going to Guatemala, and No, I Don’t Want Your Money

Now, that is a title.

If you’ve found yourself on this blog post, you might have a few questions, like:

  • You’re going to Guatemala???
  • For why????
  • When??
  • Is this title just click bait that’s secretly misleading, with Tori asking for my money as “support”???

All of these questions will be answered, you just have to stick with me. But the two most important things are:

Yes, I’m going to Guatemala!

No, I legitimately do not want a single cent of yours, because I don’t need it. 

So, let’s back up a little bit.

For a few years now, I’ve been following a photographer/videographer named Sam Potter.  He’s an environmentalist, a traveler/adventurer, and describes himself as a storyteller. Sam has been all over the world from Zimbabwe, to Nepal, to Morocco and more. He captures the culture, individuals, and wildlife of wherever he is through his lens. (You can check out some of his little adventures on his Youtube page.)

In May, Sam posted about a giveaway he was hosting with a company called Vivid Roots:  “There we’ll be adventuring through jungles and private island, experiencing culture and traditions, all while practicing sustainable tourism and working alongside locals to strengthen their communities!” All you had to do was click a link, type your name, answer a few questions, and BOOM, you were entered to win a free trip to Guatemala with him.  So, what did I do? I filled out a questionnaire and entered. I followed the Vivid Roots Instagram page  to stay updated on the status of the giveaway, and after about a week, Sam posted a video on his page announcing the winner. They had over 6,000 people apply, sifted through the questionnaires, narrowed it down to 30 people, then down to 4, and had a random drawing.

I did not win.

Shocking, right? Out of 6,000 people, I didn’t win the giveaway. Obviously, my hopes weren’t super high – any contest involving over 30 people feels like a long-shot, so I wasn’t exactly heartbroken.

However, I was still following Vivid Roots, and watched a video that Dallas, one Vivid Roots’ four founders, posted after the contest was over. Since so many people entered, they decided to open the trip up, through applications, to 20 more people. They posted this link that explained exactly what the trip would look like. We would be on the same trip with Sam Potter (the videographer) and the contest winner, and visit Antigua, Chiquimula, Rio Dulce, and do service work for the community in Chiquimula. All we had to do was fill out an application and pay for the trip – which was an ever so light $2750-ish (without the flight). (That includes 3 meals a day, the service project, excursions, guides, a translator, private transportation, and hotels for the 9-day trip.)

Vivid Roots’ main focus is about living vividly, and creating a sustainable impact. They want to make a difference in Guatemala and Ecuador, and they make multiple trips to both countries during the year. If you have a bad case of wanderlust, this company will suck you in immediately.

If all of this is too many words for you, here’s how I can put it simply:

Vivid Roots offers people a chance to go on a big adventure that involves serving the under-served, while also getting to see and do other amazing things along the way. It’s an experience of a lifetime. 

After I did my research, learned a little more about VR, and the trip, I decided to apply. I didn’t think too much of it. The application was long, and asked questions about how we knew Sam Potter, why we wanted to go, how we would make a good addition to the team, and so on. I didn’t fully expect to hear from them after I applied. After all, 6,000 people applied for the giveaway – so, let’s say 5% of that 6,000 applied. This would be 300 people applying. Now, let’s say half of them were serious and/or could feasibly pay for trip, now we’re at 150 people. The chances of me getting selected as one of the 20 felt slim.

Two days after I applied, I got a phone call from one of the other founders, Trever. He interviewed me for about an hour, and we chatted about who I was, what I wanted to do, what the next year looked like for me, and what I wanted to get out of this Impact Adventure trip. Trever was easy to talk to, friendly, and I knew immediately that we’d be good friends (mainly because he told me about a golden retriever puppy he had just brought home, Riv). At the end of our conversation, he invited me on the trip – and for some truly insane reason I said “Okay, uh, yeah, count me in. Let’s do it.”

I knew as soon as I said “Yes.” to this, that I’d be paying for this trip all on my own (No parents were consulted in this decision-making process). At this time, in April, I was set to graduate from college in a month. All I knew about my immediate future was that I’d be spending the summer in Houston working for a church as an intern, and then possibly moving back to Corpus Christi in August. I had $400 in my bank account, talked to Trever about making monthly payments for the trip (with NO idea how I was going to manage to pay for each of them, I might add), and once again, said “Yes.” As soon as I did, I was added to a list with 19 other people set to travel to Guatemala on October 12th.

Over the course of the summer, I worked at my internship, dog sat, house sat, and did whatever I could in order to save, and pay for this trip. It was discouraging to see my bank account drain after I worked so hard each month, but every time another payment went through, I felt more and more satisfied with myself. Call it what you want, but I was determined to cover this trip all on my own.

And guess what, y’all – I freaking did it. 

I don’t know what else could’ve pulled this off other than Jesus. From the beginning, I felt passionate about fundraising for this trip –  I didn’t want to do it. This was for a number of reasons:

  1. I felt like I could do it on my own, if I surrendered everything I had to this cause.

This meant living below my means, as best I could. It meant saying “No.” to visiting Corpus over the summer, to going out with friends, and to my unhealthy Amazon addiction (like, I ordered stamps on Amazon one time for like SIXTY DOLLARS out of sheer laziness – WHO does that???)

  1. I never liked the fundraising model.

This is by no means meant to bash anyone who has fund raised for something they wanted to do. I have supported and will continue to support my people around me and causes I believe in, if financial support is something they truly need in order to achieve the goal they’re setting for themselves. In my case, I knew that I could manage to pay for this trip if I worked my butt off, didn’t spend money frivolously (which I have a tendency to do), and focused. So I did just that.

  1. This wasn’t a Christian-rooted mission trip

It didn’t feel morally right to ask people to fund something- even if I, myself, am a Christian and planned on showing the Gospel to people as best I could on this trip. Despite the fact that we ARE serving people while we’re on this trip, I’m not going to lie, we’re going to do a lot of other things, like, swim in hot waterfalls, explore caves, go hiking, and spend a day on a Caribbean island. Again, I say, it just didn’t feel right.

So, what exactly IS the point of this post?

Well, It’s been almost a year since my last post in November of 2017, and a lot has changed. Well, not really. The only thing that’s really changed is that I graduated college, and got a real person job (or really jobs).

Since moving back to Corpus, I’ve picked three, yes THREE, jobs (I’m crazy.)

  1. I’m a full time receptionist at a home builder company. It’s a small, local place that’s family owned and operated. The people are nice, I’m good at what I do –  and I get to be busy alllll day while I work.
  2. I work on the weekends at a resort in Port Aransas working in guest services – and my favorite thing I get to do here is hand out popsicles to littles on the beach, and drive a golf cart.
  3. I work at a flower shop! On some other weekends when I’m not busy at the resort, I show up at Blossom Flower Shop, answer phones, run their social media, and arrange flowers. It’s the best job ever. This is where I started working in August but had to cut back my hours because of the other two jobs. The owner is letting me work when I can because he’s nice.

I love being busy. I have no idea what’s in store for me in the long-term, but what I DO know is this (sorry, ONE more list, I love the organization, leave me alone):

  1. I don’t know what career I see myself in just yet, but I’m happy doing these things for now. I’m happy working at different places where I enjoy what I’m doing, with people that I like.
  2. Graduate school is a big possibility for me. I’m basing it off of how the next year or so goes. For those of you who don’t know, my degree is in Psychology with a minor in Sociology and when asked about graduate school, my normal is answer is that I can see myself getting my Masters in Counseling (possibly Biblical Counseling) with a focus in Marriage, Couples, and Families. I’d still LOVE to do this, but I also know that people change a ton in their twenties – so, I’m giving myself the “tattoo” rule for graduate school. I’ve heard that people will put a picture of whatever tattoo they want to get on a wall in their room and leave it there for a year. If they still want that same thing at the end of that period of time, they get it. I’m going to treat grad school with the same mindset – but I’m not limiting myself to a year. It may be longer. But, I have all the time in the world- – and who knows? Maybe I’ll fall in love with a career, and not want to go to graduate school. If that happens, it won’t just “be okay”- it’ll be awesome! It’ll be ~dreamy~.
  3. I don’t know where I want to live, but for now, Corpus Christi is home. I love the beach, my people who are here, and I know this is where I’m supposed to be. For now. 
  4. Traveling is important to me, and going to Guatemala is my first step as a post-grad in doing that. I feel fiery and more like myself than ever by deciding to take a risk and go on this trip.
  5. For lack of better words, and despite how cheesy it feels to say it: Jesus provides. When I moved back, I was so scared. I interviewed for so many jobs that I lost count, and got offered positions at different places – but nothing felt right. It took a lot of letting go, loosening my grip, and letting Him do His thing, but look what happened! He provided. Surprised? For some reason, I always am. That’s silly.

In conclusion for those of you who read this lengthy post, and for those of you who scrolled to the bottom to get the gist of it.

I’m going to Guatemala in less than a month.

I still need to get my vaccines, but don’t worry, I’m going to do it.

I am full of joy in every way.

If you WOULD like to support me in going to Guatemala, all I ask is that you send me encouraging words and lift up prayers for me, the people I’m traveling with, the people we’ll be serving, and that I might get to show one person Jesus in whatever way that might be. Pray that I can love the people I’m with well, show them Jesus by the way I act, and humble myself continually. That’s it.

I’m so excited, guys. I can’t wait to tell you all what happens.

Until next time,

The original Mamma Mia (The Musical) soundtrack has been getting me through the rainy days. So, be a dancing queen while driving, but like, a safe dancing queen. Don’t be stupid, the roads are slippery.

-Tori

PS. Music is still a thing. I’m always writing, and took a pause over the summer on shows. However, I just started back this week as a music leader for Corpus Christi’s High School Younglife for the next semester. I have no intention of quitting music anytime soon, or anytime ever.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s