This June 2011, I went on a mission trip to Baltimore, Maryland. This was quite possibly the most eye-opening experience of my young life. Not only does Baltimore have a lot to offer in the tourism department, but this city houses some of the kindest individuals I have ever met. I spent a week of my summer in Baltimore and that certainly was not enough time!
The first activity I did involved volunteering at a facility for developmentally challenged adults. This was a beautiful place in which I found great joy and fulfillment. I do not think those people will ever know how much I learned from them. One memorable encounter involved a man named Robert. As a young boy, he was a child warrior in Africa. Then, he was bitten by a bug that damaged his brain. His parents were able to bring him to the United States for care after he was left developmentally challenged. Robert was such a joy to be around. He prayed, danced, sang, and gave hugs. Experiencing his warm heart was just wonderful. How lucky was I to be let into their world? I saw just how much determination was put into every action they completed. Nothing was easy for these people, but they pushed on. I found them all to be inspirational.
While in Baltimore, I also worked at two different soup kitchens. One was titled “Our Daily Bread,” while the other was titled, “My Sister’s Place.” I met so many kind individuals, each with their own story. One woman approached me and said, “You know, I had a good job for 3 years. But then I lost my job and my house. That’s why I’m here. I’m not a bum.” All I could think to do was show her kindness and reassure her that no one viewed her as a “bum.” It was then that I realized that we are all one second away from poverty. I think I entered the Baltimore trip thinking that I was going to be helping those who were different from me. I soon realized that they just aren’t. We are all people who deserve dignity.
Another thing I did in Baltimore was farm with men who were previously imprisoned. They were released under the agreement that they would fully complete a program to get back on the right track. This program allowed the men to go through several phases and eventually graduate from the program. Many of them spent their time taking classes and preparing for job interviews around the area. They each had unique stories and insights. The group that I traveled with met the men at the farm, and our bond grew from there. It was such a privilege to hear their stories and absorb their life lessons. I most definitely appreciated the time they spent with me.
The last thing I did in the city of Baltimore, Maryland was sight see. I spent time with my friends in the Inner Harbor. It was absolutely breath-taking! The view of the water was great, and there were many fun restaurants. During the day, I toured the baseball stadium, window shopped, and continued to let my Baltimore experiences sink in. I felt very fortunate to have met such amazing and wonderful people. I left Baltimore with a better sense of the world, other people, and myself. I would like to sincerely thank Father Mike Allison, all of the chaperones, and Mr. and Mrs. Ryan for the experience. Mr. and Mrs. Ryan were the parents of the late Anne Ryan. Anne spoke very highly of the Baltimore Mission Trip that she attended as a rising senior in high school. After her death, Mr. and Mrs. Ryan decided to donate money so that the trip could continue for many years. God bless.
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