Special Guest Blogger: Jacquelin Sandoval

When 36 professionals from across the United States join forces with a common desire to help mankind, a team is instantly created. The egos are checked-in at the door and the all-for-one spirit is unleashed. It is incredible to see how people of so many different walks of life can come together, bond and be extraordinary.

Extraordinary is the only way to describe people who want to have societal impact. On this mission approximately 50 successful surgeries were completed in 4 days. A team of 36 people have changed the lives of 50 families in Guatemala. The only way to do this is to be part of something greater than yourself — which is a team. Each member of the Austin Smiles Guatemala mission knew that they couldn’t do it alone but together they could produce outstanding results, which they did! Not one surgery had complications and all the children have either gone home or are in recovery.

The days for the team were long and tiring yet euphoric and joyful. Each member had such a critical role in ensuring the success of the mission…no job was too small or too big, all were equally important.

After talking with the families of the children, I can say that each family left a little bit happier and excited about what the future holds. The team of 36 not only donated surgical procedures to these children but also gave a deeper less tangible gift —they gave them the opportunity to believe and to have hope for the future. One day, one of these children may be the next doctor curing cancer or stop poverty. We simply don’t know – it only takes one person to be a change agent and on this mission there were 36.

For the team of 36, the families also brought gifts a little less conventional than what you may be used to. The parting gift is not what you might think…it’s NOT a physical one. It’s actually a million times better because it’s life altering. The gift is a box with no restrictions —its’ the permission to dream and acknowledge that you can impact change. The lives of the team of 36 and their families have officially been changed forever. Each member of this team will have a moment of reflection when they get off the emotional roller coaster. This moment may take place on ride to the airport, on the plane or as they lay in bed thinking about the last week in Guatemala. The gift may be manifested with new friendships, changing jobs, being a better human being, showing more care and compassion, appreciating a colleague more or sticking to dream and following it. As crazy as all this may sound…people, place and events change who you are or at least alter your perception.

The gift from the local children of Guatemala is one for which I will be eternally grateful.

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Note from the Blogger:

As I officially sign off as the Austin Smile’s blogger, I have to say thank you. Thank you for the opportunity to feel part of something greater than myself. Thank you for reading my posts and watching the videos in the last few days. Thank you for laughs, the tears and changing the course of my life! Thank you for supporting Austin Smiles and the mission…please don’t forget to donate as your contribution allows for so many people to believe and have hope!

To the other 35 team members, thank you for being such intelligent, funny, sarcastic, and simply incredible creatures that challenged me the last week. May you live the life you always dreamed of!

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