“When our focus is on serving others, our differences become
meaningless and our love for each other prospers.” - Jayger McGough
My childhood lessons and experiences have been paramount in setting the direction for my life. I still remember visiting orphanages and homes with kids who had disabilities when I was nine years old. Every weekend for many years, we would drive 30 to 45 minutes each way to spend time with these children, feed them, hold them, deliver donations to them, and give them gifts we had wrapped for them. Seventeen years later I can still picture my mom carrying and pouring love into the babies, especially a baby called Adonai who suffered from microcephaly.
A Paradigm of Selfless Love
There are few experiences in life that form the paradigms from which we see. A paradigm is a lens through which you operate, these are the stories whether true or not, that you tell yourself about yourself. These paradigms shape absolutely everything in your life as it pertains to your thoughts, words, actions and ultimately, your destiny. The paradigm that I observed in my mom is the way that she lovingly treated those who could do nothing for her. This mindset was the foundation for my desire to make a positive impact on other people’s lives, and I will be forever grateful to her for it.
You can teach what you know, but you will duplicate who you are. In other words, people don’t do as they’re told, people do as they see. And without a shadow of a doubt, the source of my compassion, empathy, and love for others emerged through the early example set forth by my mom.
Keeping the Fire of Service Alive
A spark might light up a fire, but without continuously adding logs to the fire, it is bound to subside. The logs to my fire were the volunteering opportunities that I experienced through ENLACE, the not-for-profit that my dad, Frederick McGough, works at as CFO.
ENLACE's core mission is community transformation. This is accomplished through partnering with churches and their communities in El Salvador, Guatemala and Nepal. ENLACE provides Biblical and technical training to identify sustainable projects for the communities. Once projects have been identified, ENLACE forms partnerships between the U.S organizations and the communities in El Salvador to fulfill these projects. A few examples of community projects that volunteers typically engage in are building homes, eco-stoves, roads,and more.
I was fortunate to have the opportunity to join these volunteer trips for five years. At first, it felt intimidating because I was just 13 and I really looked up to the college students and families that visited from abroad. But as the years went by, my responsibilities grew within these visits. I helped translate sermons, supported staff in their work, and helped with overall coordination. I vividly remember these times as they were some of the best experiences in my life. Words cannot express how special it was to meet and build relationships with the hundreds of volunteers that came to El Salvador and the families in the communities that were being served.
When people travel to a different country, they get to experience foreign tastes, smells, and sights. When these experiences are paired with serving others, it creates a constant state of euphoria. This means that within the short period of time that I spent with people, I was meeting everyone’s best self; it was amazing!
I noticed that while people are serving, they bring down their barriers, political affiliations, societal roles, and ethnic differences. Instead, they focus on the mission of their trip, which is to serve. When our focus is on serving others, our differences become meaningless and our love for each other prospers.
The joy that I noticed in these volunteers as they served people who could do nothing for them in return, inspired me to ensure that serving is part of who I am. It has become one of the core values that shape my decisions and the way that I treat others. I have kept in touch with volunteers that I met over eight years ago and I can say with certainty that their experience serving in these countries through ENLACE changed them. Many volunteers visited El Salvador with the aspiration to give, only to realize that what they received turned out to be tenfold of what they gave.
The Gift of Hope
Hal Lindsay said, “Man can live about forty days without food, three days without water, eight minutes without air...but only one second without hope”.
When volunteers travel to developing countries and spend time serving, they unconsciously give those whom they encounter one of the most priceless gifts in life: hope. It is so beautiful to see the love and compassion that develops between the volunteers and the locals.
"If you are considering going on one of the ENLACE service trips,
stop wondering and do it!" - Jayger McGough Tomasino
Likewise, if you have already participated in the past, I hope my reflections refreshed your mind on how a visit made you “feel.” It may be time to revitalize your service involvement!
You Can Teach What You Know but You Will Duplicate Who You Are
In life, there are few things that are truly within our control, one of them being the example that we set. The example that you set as a parent is potentially the most significant factor within your control that would impact your child’s desire to serve others. Encourage your children to go on a service trip with ENLACE or better yet, go on a trip with them. I could tell that many parent-child relationships strengthened during these trips. You might have children that have grown up and perhaps you feel like this no longer applies to you. All I can say is that it is never too late to set a great example by serving others. After all, you can teach what you know but you will duplicate who you are.
Meet Jayger McGough Tomasino
Jayger McGough Tomasino currently lives in Chicago and works as a Solutions Engineer at Salesforce. He is also the Co-Founder of a Wellness Company called ThriVita.io. He was born in Kenya where he lived for eight years. He then moved to El Salvador with his family until at the age of eighteen he left to attend college at Marquette University.