Las Vegas. Casinos, girls, gambling, lights, FUN. Most people’s idea of this bright commercial city is that it is full of exciting shows, rich people, fancy cars, and 5 star hotels with flamingos walking around. But, if you were to see outside the city, you would find a very contrasting picture. I found out on a two-week mission trip I participated in with my youth group from June 24th to July 5th, 2007. After an early morning meeting at our church here in Vancouver, twelve young adults and four youth leaders left in two 15 passenger vans to help out the homeless and less fortunate in the parts of Las Vegas a normal tourist would never see. After a twenty-hour drive, we arrived in Vegas and stayed overnight at the Nazarene church there near the outskirts of town. Although it seemed that our quarters on one side were nicer than the boys’, I found out differently at one o’clock the next morning. I needed some water and tiptoed around the other girls, heading for the stairs. I was barefoot. This turned out to be a major mistake on my part. As I turned the corner, I heard a loud crunch and felt something hard underneath my foot. Not particularly wanting to see what had made the unearthly sound so early in the morning, I slowly leaned over and opened my cell phone to shine more light on the object. I had stepped on a 5-inch long cockroach. Barefoot. I clicked on a nearby light switch. That’s when I heard a loud scuffling noise. I then saw about two hundred of those nasty little creatures scamper off into the corners of the room below. Thoroughly disgusted, I got into bed and put on sweats and tennis shoes even in my sleeping bag. I never went barefoot there again!
Throughout the next two weeks, we worked with the homeless shelter outside of Vegas. There the customers received a place to sleep, fresh clean mats to sleep on, clothes that were donated to the shelter by others, and a good free meal in a nice clean cafeteria. There was a chapel on the grounds and a large library as well. We helped stock the shelves of the pantry with hundreds of cans of food, folded thousands of items of clothing for the people there, and we did a lot of housekeeping tasks around the shelter in general. We scrubbed about three hundred mats, helped serve and prepare food in the cafeteria, re-stocked the library, threw out the old moldy books, and we also led a Bible study and a church worship service in the chapel. We even spent our afternoons relaxing and talking with the homeless people in the shade of the trees nearby. I learned so much over those past two weeks about being selfless, not complaining, being satisfied with what you have, and SO much more, it still just amazes me even now! The lessons I learned on that trip have stayed with me and I know the others who went feel the same. Someday soon I want to go back and visit that shelter and help out again. I met the most wonderful people there, I learned so much about life, giving, serving, and just having a great time and being content with what I have, and honestly, those were the best two weeks I have ever had. I felt so good after I got home knowing that I had helped possibly even one hundred people who really needed it. I would do it all over again if I could!
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