This summer, I went on a mission trip to West Virginia with my youth group, P.U.S.H. (Pray Until Something Happens). I got to go with nine of my best friends, and four of the best adults in the entire world, but being with them wasn’t the best part of my trip. Before the mission part of the trip started, we were given the chance to do some sight seeing. West Virginia is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. Seeing the sun rise over the rolling mountains was something I’ve never had the chance to see in my life. It was amazing. Before we went to Beckley, we stayed in Dunlow, West Virginia, in some log cabins that were built in 1936. Dunlow is an extremely small town. We drove down some very narrow, winding roads into a valley that reminded some of us of a roller coaster. Our evenings were spent chasing hundreds of fireflies, bonding around a campfire, and talking about what we wanted to get out of this trip. During the day we discovered one of the things West Virginia is most know for, the New River. Some of our group went white water rafting, while others spent the day at ACE Lake. But, the real reason for the trip was in the back of my mind the entire time we were sightseeing. The mission was waiting for us in Beckley. Beckley, West Virginia, is a large town with many needs. It is also the home of the 29 miners who lost their lives in the coal mine disaster this past spring. Four different youth groups were there; ours, another from Wisconsin, one from Maryland, and one from Washington D.C. While in Beckley, we stayed at an old school that was turned into a community building. We slept on the floors and showered at a nearby college. We worked a great portion of the day. The opposite group of mine painted houses, but my group went to a kid’s club. We worked with underprivileged kids whose parents couldn’t watch them during the day. On average, there were about forty five to fifty kids to show up every day. This was a strange experience for me, being able to see poverty in a whole new way. Kids showed up daily wearing their designer clothes. Parents, if they had parents, would dress them nicely to hide their lives difficulties. Many of the kids talked about their families, and the issues that each family had. It was an extremely eye opening experience for me because I finally realized how good my own life is. A roof over my head, food in my stomach, friends who care, a loving family, and an education, and now I truly appreciate the things that I have. The trip to West Virginia, for me, was more than just a trip. It was an opportunity to help people less fortunate, and to me, helping others and making them happy is the key to true self happiness.
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