Nowadays, it seems impossible to come across someone who doesn’t have internet or an iPod. The technology and modern luxuries that we have are abundant. However, for three summers now, I have put aside the basic comforts of life to work with people living in extreme poverty.
Annually, a group from my church goes to the town of Drift, Kentucky, where pick-up trucks are more common than SUVs, houses don’t always have all four walls or a solid roof, and children are lucky if they make it through high school. Our group stays for a week, sacrificing internet, television, and beds for an opportunity to teach, build, and restore. Each year we wake up before the rooster has crowed to teach a morning Bible School and do afternoon construction projects.
One year, we worked for a man who lost the use of his legs due to an accident working in the coal mines. He could not leave the house without the aid of his teenage son who had to carry him out the door and down the stairs. We spent the week building a wheelchair ramp for his home. Because I was an amateur and not used to such strenuous conditions and long hours, I suffered many a splinter and smashed thumb. Each evening as I trudged back to my sleeping bag, covered in dirt and sweat, I couldn’t help but long for air conditioning and a soft bed. At the end of the week, I watched the man roll onto our masterpiece. I realized how much only a week’s effort can change someone’s life and, despite the rough living conditions, how much it improved my own.
Every year, it seems like I take back more than I give up. The lessons on sacrifice that I learned from my experiences in Kentucky are more worthwhile than any modern luxury. I often hear people speak of luxuries as if they are necessities. In Drift, your necessities are your luxuries.
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