Could you imagine not knowing when you were going to eat your next meal? Two summers ago my life changed. I thought that I had everything that I needed, until a five year old boy named Jose taught me otherwise. On a mission trip you're expected to come back touched and thinking differently. Unfortunately after a while, you go back to normal and begin taking advantage of what we have. While we were in Florida we spent five days teaching bible school and playing with kids. The other days were spent at the beach and in Disney World. The days we spent leisurely I vaguely remember and the time I spent with children will remain in my heart and mind forever.
Thinking back, to the trip I remember my youth director telling us if we come home thinking how fortunate we are then we didn't gain anything from our experience, but, if we come home saying, "how can I help the people around me?"ÃÂ Then we had come home as the better person.
The five days that we spent with the kids, we were divided into groups, I worked with the five and six year olds in the vacation bible school. I enjoyed every minute from learning Jesus Loves Me in sign language all the way up to watching Veggie Tales in Spanish. The majority of the kids could speak English so the communication barrier wasn't a factor. The first day was chaotic because we didn't know everyone's names, we couldn't figure out who was in the right group, and every time we had just started working at our stations they called and told us to switch. I was becoming stressed, just as I sat down a little boy came over to me and asked if he could sit with me. As we sat I found out that he was five and his name was Jose. The next day I looked for the little boy to play with. As I walked in the room he came over to me and I could tell he had something behind his back. Jokingly I said "Jose, what did you bring me?"ÃÂ He smiled mischievously and showed me a giant heart that said "Jose loves you!"ÃÂ To this day I still have the heart with a picture of the two of us together tacked to the front of it. The week went on and we said our good-byes. Although I'm sure he has forgotten me I will never forget him.
Sometimes it's not what you receive, for instance a present to them would be great but they don't dwell on the fact that they don't get them often. Jose, along with many of the other kids taught me how to love unconditionally and not to worry about what happens from day to day. Many of the things that were a necessity to me, so I thought, became more of a want and now I have come to appreciate many more things and to live each day to the fullest. When I am upset or irritated I try to think of this experience because if puts me in a good mood and makes me more aware of the people around me and I think to myself, "what can I do to help the people that I love and care about?"ÃÂ I wish that I was more like those kids because in five days I learned how to embrace life and make the others around me feel the same way. This mission trip made me aware of the needs of other people and not just mine. I have close to fifty pairs of shoes and so many clothes and I still ask for more. The kids had maybe two pairs of shoes at the most and wore the same outfit everyday that I saw them. For some of these kids who didn't know when they would get their next meal, made me realize that my concerns were trivial. Regardless of what they had they were still happy and they had so much love for each other. I learned from them that a day without laughter is a day wasted. I will never forget Jose and the other children and I will forever remember the difference between a need and a want. What I thought was helping them turned out to be, them helping me. That"ÃÂs definitely something to laugh about! So this is why this trip made my life worth living and gives me hope for everyday.