Living in the same town since kindergarten is rewarding in many ways, but it has also limited my scope. My view of the world is seen through the perspective of my hometown. One summer, this all changed.
The summer prior to my sophomore year in high school, I went on a trip to Juarez, Mexico with my church youth group through Amor Ministries (www.amor.org). Our task was to build a home for a needy family. When we crossed the border into Mexico, everything changed. People were selling things on street corners to make a living and traffic laws apparently ceased to exist. We soon arrived at our campground, which was primitive to say the least. The sound of sirens was almost constant as I uneasily drifted to sleep.
The next day I realized that the journey had only begun. As we drove to the site where we were to build, we passed graffiti-covered walls and barred windows. The neighborhood was up on a hill via a dusty road lined with emaciated stray dogs. This sight saddened me, but I soon saw worse. Many of the “homes” in this neighborhood were shacks constructed of cardboard, scrap metal, and wooden pallets. Those with a stucco house were considered lucky. I had a feeling like a rock had dropped in the pit of my stomach. I realized how truly blessed I am to have what I do. What really struck me was how often I take for granted the little things such as clean running water.
The people of this poverty-stricken neighborhood had few luxuries that I possess, but were extremely joyful and optimistic in spite of their lack of material wealth. They took nothing for granted and were thankful for what little they had. This put me to shame. I complained daily about trivial things while these people who had every right to complain, never did. Every person in that little neighborhood wore a smile. I learned so much from the people of this small neighborhood, who considered themselves wealthy simply for having people who loved them.
When I embarked on this trip to Mexico, I intended to help others by building them a house that they truly needed. Little did I know that I would be the one who received help. I gained a whole new outlook on life through a humbling experience. My trip to Mexico will always affect my view of the world. I now see things from a new perspective that takes into consideration multiple ways of life. The trip facilitated a new way of life for me – more grateful, optimistic, and always wearing a smile.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.