Eight people sitting a standing on a mound of dirt holding up four fingers.

Day 4: Why We’re Here

Today was a really hard day, both physically and mentally.  It seems like each step forward had their associated two steps back.  Whether it be digging, searching, or mapping, nothing went as we expected.  The phrase “expect the unexpected” definitely rang true today, and we had to really work as a team to adapt to the challenges and changing situations we encountered.  In addition to these mental challenges, today was also physically challenging.  Yesterday consisted of hours upon hours of digging.  As one could expect, getting out of bed this morning was not a piece of cake.  In addition, another 10 hours of shoveling and hauling buckets today proved extremely difficult and physically taxing.

As the morning went on, exhaustion began to set in.  We were taking measurements in the western part of the cemetery when a large car approached.  As this cemetery is still frequented by family members visiting their loved ones, we thought nothing of it. However, they came to a stop right where we were working.  The door opened and a small dog hopped out, followed by two women carrying plastic shopping bags.  These bags were full of bread, lunch meat, cheese, oranges, donuts, and bottled water.  The women repeatedly thanked us for the work we were doing, and said that the work being done was nothing short of extraordinary.  We graciously thanked the women and they went on their way.

Team member dumping a bucket of dirt.
Erica helping refill the excavation area

Later in the afternoon, we moved back to the eastern part of the cemetery and continued to work in the area we begun the days prior.  After we were about halfway through refilling the excavated areas, the same women approached us once more.  This time, they told us that they would love to make us a hot meal and bring it to the cemetery for us to eat.  They said it was the least they could do, again expressing their gratitude for the work being conducted.  Witnessing the pure emotions of these women was truly a humbling and emotional experience for me.

Today reminded me that despite being sore and experiencing setbacks and challenges in the field, the work we are conducting is making a huge impact in the community.  The fact that these women would give up their time, money, and energy to bring lunches and make a hot meal for over 30 volunteers is nothing short of amazing.  This aspect of today really brought things back into perspective for me.  It’s easy to get frustrated when things don’t go as planned, but at the end of the day, the work being conducted here in Falfurrias is truly an amazing humanitarian effort in response to a crisis whose effects are felt community-wide.   Despite all of the challenges and trials faced in the field today, this one small act of kindness reminded me why we are here.