My Arizona Trip - My Family Travels

In my seventeen years of life, I have been to numerous places including resorts in Mexico California and Florida, and the nothingness of the Midwest including Oklahoma, Texas, Nebraska, Iowa, and Missouri. But of all these great and not so great places I have been, the one that’s memories will stick with me is the trip I took with my church group to a little Indian Reservation in the middle of Arizona. During this trip, I got quite the culture shock and met some new friends.

Having grown up in suburban Olathe, Kansas, soccer mom capital of the world, traveling almost halfway across the country to one of the most poverty stricken places in the United States was an adventure to say the least. Upon our arrival, we were ushered into an Indian church service that took over three hours. This wouldn’t have been quite as bad if they weren’t speaking their native Navajo tongue about half the time. After many testimonials of people that had been cured of their alcoholism and drug addictions upon finding God, they urged the strange white teenagers sitting silently in the back of the room to come up and say something. After exchanging nervous glances with our friends, my friend, Molly and I decided to play a song. As I stood in front of many unfamiliar faces, strumming along on my guitar, I saw the joy in the audience’s faces. The power of music bringing people together was evident not only in that moment, but throughout the trip. We were putting on a Vacation Bible School for the children in the town, and most of the older children seemed less than thrilled to be there. Throughout the days, the “girl gang,” as we called them, would sit in the corner and refuse to participate. But as soon as they came to the music group, they began to open up just a bit more. One day, I discovered that American Idol contestant, David Cook, was popular among these older girls. I played one of his songs for them and from then on, they begged me to play more and became increasingly involved and less like the girl gang they had once been. Impacting the lives of these kids was what really made the trip memorable. They had nothing and were so trusting that all we had to do was drive through the neighborhoods in our minivan and ring random doorbells to get parents to let their kids leave with strange white teenagers. Everything I had been taught as a child said never get into a car with strangers. These kids and parents were so trusting that they defied the biggest rule on stranger danger that exists. That still baffles me today, over a year later.

            Nobody wanted to leave our new friends. We had worked hard to watch over and bond with all of them and it was evident that we had made a difference in their lives, big and small. I will remember this trip because it was meaningful and we actually did something to help out others instead of just relaxing in the confines of a beautiful resort. Changing lives has a much bigger impact than sitting on the beach.

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