One of my most memorable and personal travel experiences was this past summer when my youth group from church and I went on a mission trip to Nashville, Tennessee from July 2009. While we were there we did a lot of things we wouldn’t normally do in our day-to-day lives. We stepped out of our comfort zone and talked to people who were down on their luck, homeless, or chose to live on the street as a way of life. We got to see some of the attractions of Nashville while we were there like the Ryman Auditorium, music row, and a prestigious university called Vanderbilt University. The most wonderful part of the whole trip was being able to serve through God.
When we arrived that Sunday, I was a little out of my comfort zone already. There were only two bathroom stalls and one shower for three church groups. Therefore we could only take 5-minute showers. It was also a little difficult to sleep, because my air mattress kept deflating and every morning I would wake up on the floor, but also there was no air conditioning in the rooms and we only had one working fan. As I did my nightly devotion I asked the Lord to help me forget these minute problems.
Thankfully, Monday morning we didn’t have to get up to take our showers until about 8:00 or so, which was nice because some mornings we had to get up at 6:00 or so and sometimes pack a lunch. We had our group devotional and then left for our work site of the day. We worked at a soup kitchen called Samaritan Ministries. Before we started serving we watched a video about the different ways in which the organization helps their community. One of the things they do is give dental and medical care to the homeless or less fortunate. It gave me the idea that I would like to open up a free health clinic one day for the less fortunate or homeless. We also had an afternoon site where we would go help at a Boys and Girls Club where they had probably 80 children and 6 staff.
On Tuesday we met up with a Salvation Army truck that serves breakfast to the homeless or less fortunate on the streets. We had to pack a lunch this day and for the rest of the week, then we went to the centennial park and ate. Two other girls and I helped pass out cups for water and coffee and also sugar while others talked to people standing in line. As I was passing out the sugar, they only told us to give them 2-3 packets. During this time I realized that not all homeless or less fortunate people appreciate the help they get. One man asked for six packets of sugar and after I told him twice that he could only have three, as he walked away he got angry and cursed. I became upset and on the verge of tears. I looked at one of the other girls beside me and said “can we trade,” because I just couldn’t say no anymore.
On Wednesday we went into the city and did what our CSM (Center for Student Missions) leaders called Urban Exposure, which was an extremely eye opening experience that helped me see how fortunate I am. Thursday we did more exploring around the city again. Friday we went to an Adult Day Care center at a church. From this trip I learned that you have to be patient with children and to not take anything for granted. I felt so blessed to be given the opportunity to go and show God to people who don’t always get to see kindness.
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