Ten Days that Changed My Life

When asked what event has changed their lives, many teenagers will answer with a story of their first boyfriend, break-up, or experience with a back-stabbing comrade. Even though I am familiar with these instances, and have been changed by them, I see them not as events that have made me who I am, but rather occurrences that I have faced along the way.
When I was seven years old, my parents took me on a trip that would change my life forever. Our destination was an island in the Caribbean, Trinidad. Our goal, together with thirty-some others from the mid-west, was to build a chapel at a Theological College there. It was the first time I had ever been outside of the country, so I was pumped. I loved adventure, and felt so grown-up as I handed the customs officer my passport. My childhood had been full of missions trips, so I was accustomed to the process of traveling, working, and traveling home, but was totally unprepared for what Trinidad held for me that winter.
Through the course of the next two weeks, I saw and experienced so much. I remember not caring that there was not any warm water to shower in, just being thankful for running water to clean the dust off my body. I remember missing my barbie dolls, and then glancing at the kids playing in the street, with sticks and rocks. I remember being hungry enough to eat the food that the ladies cooked for us, even though I was picky and did not like it. I had never been hungry before. I remember walking into the village to get soda for the guys, and passing the public bathing hole, asking my Mama why those people were swimming with no clothes on in such dirty water. When she told me that they bathed there, I remember thinking about all my bath toys back home, and how much I had always complained when the water grew tepid.
Trinidad opened my eyes to so much. It showed me poverty and made my heart ache for the poor. It made me realize how much I had, in proportion to how little I needed. It showed me how much we, as Americans (even the lower classes), took for granted. Most importantly, it awakened my heart for mission work, and started a spark within me that has grown into a flame; a passion for helping the helpless, bringing hope to those who have none, and loving those who have not experienced love.
Even though I have gone through the drama and heartache that accompany being a teenager, I find the contrast to be vivid when comparing it to what I learned in Trinidad that winter, and the many winters after. Those trips helped put life, and the frailty of it, into perspective. They simplified it, and showed me how much I have, and how much is expected of me because of this. They filled me with an urgency to go, and tell those who have not heard, of the joy that I have. This is why, Trinidad, and those ten days, changed who I am, and who I forever will be.





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SmellyMichelly said...
Nov. 29, 2011 at 2:35 pm

awesome. I love this piece. I'm gladmthat it opened your eyes to how privileged we are here.

It's sad that so many people don't know what is going on in places like Trinidad. Congratulations and Thank-you.

5/5

 
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