Guatemala: Breaking My Shell

A few days ago I shared with you all about the Guatemala mission team that I was a part of. Today I wanted to talk about a piece of the trip that really had an impact on me.

As an extremely amateur photographer I had the pleasure of carrying around my Canon DSLR constantly. I took about 1,500 photos in 10 days and only about 10-20 of the photos could really be considered half-way decent. So overall, it was a learning experience as someone who takes pictures but it was really more of a growing experience as someone who interacts with other people.

For the most part, someone who studies human behavior would consider me to be an introvert. However, I would politely disagree with them. Just because you and I don’t have constant conversations doesn’t mean that I am afraid of, intimidated by, or shy towards you. Frankly, it just means that I don’t have a lot to say to you and you don’t have a lot to say to me [This is not a bad thing]. If you and I did have constant conversation/interaction it would probably be forced and uncomfortable…. Blah, blah, blah… What does this have to do with the trip to Guatemala?

For me, this has everything to do with the trip to Guatemala. Going into the trip I had labeled myself as an introvert and had therefore set up expectations for myself as an introvert. I had developed the expectation that I would be consistently uncomfortable because I would be around the same 8-12 people constantly. I also expected to be challenged by interactions that I knew I would have with many native Guatemalans. For the most part, I think that my previous post addressed and tore-down my first expectation. The team was great and rarely made me uncomfortable.

However, I had a little more trouble working through the second expectation. It was troublesome for me because I had this internal want to communicate and interact with many of the local Guatemalans but I really had no way of doing so verbally [My Spanish is horrible]. Although, what became apparent to me a couple of days into the trip was that I could have genuine interactions with many of the natives by means of my camera. [And again, I said I am a VERY amateur photographer].

In third-world countries a contraption that captures images and then displays them on a 2.5″ LCD screen is somewhat of a rarity. So for children especially, my camera was a hot topic. I think that I heard the word “photo” in the form of a question more than I have ever heard the word “photo” in my entire life, and I’m not complaining. The interactions I got to have and friendships that I got to develop were unmatchable and I am very thankful for them. I don’t feel like I should waste any time trying to explain my experiences with the Guatemalans when the photos I have paint the picture better than I could ever try to say it.

So to close out this post I want to say that just because I don’t talk a lot doesn’t mean I’m an introvert, it might just mean that I enjoy our non-verbal interactions just as much or more than our verbal interactions. I hope you enjoy the photos.

Lastly as a side-note, I don’t want to make a “show” out of these photos. I am not posting them to make you feel bad that you live in a wealthy country. I am not posting them to show-off this amazing experience that I got to have and you didn’t get to have. I am not posting photos of these people in an effort to be like national geographic. I am not posting them for any other reason than to [hopefully] show that people are people all over the world. They laugh, cry, run, sing, smile, fight and hope just like you and me.

6 thoughts on “Guatemala: Breaking My Shell

  1. Mark, I love your post. I know it may not seem like it at all but I’m totally like you feeling as if I’m more introverted then extroverted. Getting to know the team allowed me to break out of my shell easier.
    I really like the last bit of your post, we are all human and one of the closest things we have in common with all humanity, is emotion. We all show expression through facial or
    physical action. A look, a smile, a tear, a laugh, when caught by camera we.
    can see the emotion
    at its most simplistic but also most complex
    One of my favorite things about all the trips I’ve been on to Guatemala, the smiles youget NY the kids in each picture

    1. Sorry the last part didn’t make sense, I’m using my phone to respond and its lame, needless to say.
      I was trying to say the smiles you get from the kids in each picture is my favorite part. Thanks for the posts

      1. Tony,

        It’s great to hear that we are on the same page. I really appreciate what you had to say about facial expression and emotion. I feel like that lays out a lot of what I was trying to say very simply.

        And I agree, the smiles are an amazing thing!


  2. Wonderful pictures, and a great experience for you (reminds us of our solo trip on the Amazon). Grandma and Pa

  3. Mark,

    Your writing is a amazing and I completely relate to what you have expressed about being an introvert. I can’t wait to read more and you should give yourself more credit…the photos are beautiful!


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