WhatsApp Image 2019-03-24 at 10.34.01 PM

Samantha Granger is a Community Economic Development (CED) volunteer serving in a pueblo in Magdalena, Colombia.

I try not to brag too much, but I have a fantastic family. They are insanely fun, and love me unconditionally (not an easy task). I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

When I made the decision to move to Colombia, I knew they would be the hardest thing to leave behind. I would miss some of their biggest moments – births, deaths, weddings, graduations—so much can happen in two years. I love them, and I like to be involved in their lives. Could I do that from so far away?

My family’s reaction to my choice to join the Peace Corps was what I expected. They were surprised, a little frightened, and somewhat nervous. Their initial feelings soon gave way to support, and in the months leading up to the start of my service, they made me feel like I made the right decision.

The night before I left for Colombia, my sister handed me a large envelope full of photos and cards. At her request, many of my aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends took the time to write notes wishing me luck, sending prayers, and asking me to keep them updated.

My sister told me that some of them were for now, and some of them were for later. Confused by what she meant by later, she explained that two of my Aunts sent cards with instructions. On the envelopes they said things like “Open when you’ve had a bad day” or “Open on your birthday” or “Open when you need to know someone cares.” I was to save those for later and open them when I needed them.

The notes have quite literally carried me through my service. I was correct in thinking that my family would be the hardest thing to leave behind – I miss them every day. On days when I miss them too much, I pull out the cards and spend some time reading them. On days that I am really struggling, I open one of the “later” cards. They never fail to make me crack a smile.

The cards make my heart swell with an amount of gratitude I did not think was possible. They remind me to be grateful for the ability to live the life I live, no matter how difficult a day might have been. The quotes that follow are from a few of the cards that really resonated with me. Take a small moment to read them, and feel some big gratitude – from my family to yours! No matter where you are or where you are going, take some words of encouragement with you – you never know when you will need them.

“I wish you such good fortune in your new adventure and send all my love and prayers with you. Have a wonderful time, my dear. After all, that is all there is to be had.” – Great Aunt Deets

“I know there will be good days and bad days, but I hope you always remember how completely awesome you are.” – Lauren

“It (this journey) will show you what is important in life, over the little things we let bother us.” – Uncle John

“You’re doing it! You are heading out into this big bad world.” – Hannah

“Drop a line now and then but mostly live and love your life for these next years. The greatest learning experiences are the ones where we are confused, disoriented and uncomfortable. Embrace the discomfort.” Aunt Kelly and Uncle Dan

“Stay strong and keep going!” – Alec

“Be open, be wise, be grateful, be you.” Aunt Allison


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