It is truly amazing the lessons you can learn, even when you do not seek the wisdom. Over the summer of 2009, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to attend a mission trip with my church, St. Andrews United Methodist, to Vancleave, Mississippi. I was surprised with the devastation that still remained from Hurricane Katrina, which took place in 2005. I went to Vancleave with a group of about twenty to volunteer and help rebuild the houses of those who are still struggling. This trip taught me countless lessons from how to do handiwork to how to console someone in need.
Before going to Mississippi, I could barely hammer a nail. Throughout the week, I mastered sanding, installing dry wall and insulation, and crafting wood, just to name a few. I worked diligently for the first three days. However, there was something missing. Although my project was progressing, I felt like I was not fulfilling my mission. What finally made my work meaningful was when I met the homeowners on Thursday. I was deeply moved when they shared with us how their lives had come to a point of such disarray. Within a span of about two years, not only had Mrs. Shipfer lost her first two husbands and their family home, she was also confined to a wheelchair from an accident that occurred during the hurricane. I could not fathom the tragedies that this family was being forced to overcome. It was an amazing experience to be able to comfort the family and assure them that everything would soon improve. The devastation in their lives ran so much deeper than just brick and concrete. We were not only in Mississippi to rebuild homes, but to rebuild lives.
The trip to Mississippi really opened my eyes to the needs of others. The hurt and anguish I witnessed while on the trip is not exclusive to Mississippi. There is suffering throughout the world, and I know I can make a difference. The joy that I received in Mississippi while helping the Shipfer family increased my desire to help others more than ever. Since returning from the trip, I have helped people in many ways, from tutoring in math to helping pack food for the homeless at Metropolitan Ministries.
I am extremely motivated to not only be the best that I can be, but also to support my peers in attaining their goals. This trip helped me to follow my call to service: working hard to help myself and others succeed not only in education, but in life.
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