Story of the Month

Kyla SOTM Oct - 2

Connecting While Canoeing

The second day of the Guatemala site’s canoe trip began with a delicious meal of granola and powdered milk in a plastic cup. We were fuelling up for canoeing a total of 25 kilometres. Despite our arms still feeling sore from the day before, we set out on the lake. Thankfully, I got to sit in the ‘princess seat’ of the canoe, which meant no paddling for me. It wasn’t hard to tell that the energy of my newfound friends was dwindling after only about a quarter of the trip. The elements were certainly not on our side as we fought the wind, nearly being tossed over in the waves.

Suddenly, above the sounds of crashing waves and howling wind, one voice sung out above it all. The first couple lyrics of ‘All Star’ by Smashmouth rang out over the lake, giving all of us a hope we never knew we could have. Without any cue, we all began to sing out the song, creating joy within our hearts and strength within our arms. By that point I had switched positions with the bow paddler to give her a rest. I was paddling to the beat of the song, not realizing how far we had already gone.

After Smashmouth came Journey, and then our favourite Disney songs. Finally ending on the classic High School Musical that we all know and love. This singing not only got us through an extremely tiring day of paddling, but it also bonded us as a team. Whether their voice cracked or they sung off key, all participants were welcome in the chorus. It definitely proved how much music can bring people together.

Throughout the canoe trip we quickly became family, despite only meeting a couple days before. The experience of being thrown fully out of your comfort zone with people you barely know is disorienting, but it also creates opportunity for growth and depth in new friendships. We had many moments of singing, dancing, and laughing. Personally, I was able to be myself around this new group, an experience that is uncommon coming out of high school. Similar to the singing, everyone was brave enough to share their unique personalities without fear of being judged.

The canoe trip was a foundational experience for our team, one that gave us common ground to build off of. It was beautiful to witness what can happen when you put aside technology, rely on God’s creation, and dive into new relationships.

– Kyla Willms, Site One Guatemala student, 2018-19