Joy Within the Poverty

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As I looked out of the car window upon our arrival in Baja, Mexico my eyes were opened for the first time to a world I had previously ignored and avoided; a world of poverty. I saw homes made of tin and tarp scattered across dry, barren earth and surrounded by trash and waste. I saw kids my age standing in the hot sun trying to sell Coca-Cola to for a living, instead of going to school or playing with friends. I saw, and will never forget, the austere, ineffable expressions on the peoples faces. I could tell that they had felt pain, but I could not look into their eyes long enough to see their stories swimming in their deep black eyes.

After seeing this, I had a sudden, deep desire to help these people. The purpose of the trip was to build homes with my church for two families. Unfortunately, I am not much with a hammer, nor am I useful when it comes to heavy lifting, so I ended up mostly painting. Since I love painting, I ended up having a lot of fun. It was also one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Seeing a house standing where a day before there was nothing but flat dirt is really incredible, especially if you know that you were a part of it. The family we gave the house to was so grateful and felt so blessed that I couldn’t help but share their joy.

After we built the houses, we played with and ministered to the children. Despite the language barrier, I was able to get to know them, and through that see life from their perspective. I found myself in awe of them. Despite their poor living conditions, despite their lack of material items, and despite their seemingly hopeless future, they were happy. They were playful, sharing, loving, and thankful. They were eager to learn and ready to hear about God. I was so amazed, and hope that if I were in their position, I would be able to make the best of it too. I remember very clearly, one little girl was playing with a sheet of gold star stickers. There were only two left on the page. She took one and gave the other to me. She could have easily taken both, and I am sure that they meant more to her than to me, but she wanted to share them with me. I still have that gold sticker and every time I see it I am reminded to be selfless and loving and to not take things for grant it.

Going on the Baja mission trip was a life-changing community service opportunity. I strongly encourage others to participate in a mission trip as well, and if you do, I promise it will be an experience that you will never forget.





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AmeeCanter said...
Jan. 25, 2011 at 8:14 pm
My church does something similar every year. They go to Rocky Point.  I really want to go, but my parents are very concerned. Hopefully I can have these amazing experiences someday.
 
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