Mixed feelings of excitement and fear filled my mind as I came upon my destination. I had imagined a town that was like mine, but it just needed a little push to get back on its feet – to get back in the swing of things physically and mentally. But what I found was a filthy place – literally and figuratively. The streets of the town were filled with infested trash and lacked pride. The plants of the community were filled with poison and lacked fruit. The hearts of people were filled with self-doubt and lacked hope. It was one of the most devastating places I had been; not because of the living conditions, but because of the the lifestyles in which the people lived.
â–º QUARTER FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIp
My team, the Valleydale Church youth group from Birmingham, Alabama, and I worked with the Baltimore Dream Center, which is a community center that helps get people back on there feet and lead them to Christ. We were determined to bring light into this dark community. This flame was lit, with just one look at this town full of potential, by hope – our hope that, by God’s doings, we could give our hope to the hopeless.
As we became more involved in this community, the flame became a fire. By just cleaning up a sidewalk and handing out newsletters we were able to look into the lifeless eyes of the people and bring a smile to their face. We were able to bring joy to their face. We were able to bring hope to their life.
>As the warm sun beat done on my skin, I ran from the tiny, yet fierce three year old boy chasing me with a water gun at the “Kidstreet” event held at the Baltimore Dream Center that hot summer afternoon. Once I was attacked with water and laughter from little Toby, I heard a quiet, soft voice explain to me that Toby was the wild child of their household, and she was sorry he did that to me. I went on to tell her that I thought it was fun and did not mind at all. Little did I know this angelic voice was a precious eleven year old girl named Rodnesha, that I would get the privilege of meeting and spending the next couple of hours with. To most people, she was very shy and solemn, but with me, she showed her spunky and inquisitive spirit. She had a huge heart, full of compassion and care. She would look up at me with her bright eyes and say, “Hey, that girl looks lonely. Let’s go talk to her.” She was wise beyond her years, but still jumped at the chance to play and talk about what was on Disney channel last night. We became instant friends even though we lived in two different worlds.
While trying to be a positive influence on the kids, I suddenly realized they were impacting my life more than I could ever imagine impacting theirs. They were content with what they had. They were happy to spend time with their families. They were full of joy because they knew they were loved by the Dream Center and by God.
In the midst of all the violence and evil, they were the light. These kids were the fire of this community. They were the hope.
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