Last summer, I was blessed with the opportunity to go on a mission trip with my church family to Atlanta, Georgia through Experience Mission.The trip started out like the previous mission trip I had been on with my youth group: 30 sponsors and high schoolers climbed onto our big black bus, and we were off. We stayed the night at a huge Baptist church and attended a Sunday morning service there, then we were once again en route to Atlanta. After driving all over the city trying to find the Salvation Army building we would be staying at, we finally rolled up to the right one after dark, got our stuff in the building, and had the usual informative meeting about the area, ministry, and Experience Mission staff.
â–º QUARTER FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
We found out that we would be painting stairwells at local apartment complexes in a mostly Latino community, along with running a Kid’s Club Ministry for kids in the neighborhood. The next day when we got to the apartments, it was easy to see why we were there. The paint was either chipping, faded, or covered with vulgar graffiti. According to a resident of the apartments, the paint was a reminder. After working all day, residents would come home and be reminded that they are poor before even stepping foot into their apartments. The less-than-appealing halls were a constant reminder of their financial situations, and that they weren’t any closer to leaving than when they had left that morning.
As we started painting and the time neared towards Kid’s Club, something amazing happened. One by one, children came out of their apartments and asked if they could help us paint. They were all so happy and grateful that we were making their homes prettier, and they wanted to be a part of that. It was just amazing.
When the time came to start Kid’s Club, I started playing Frisbee with a group of kids. One by one, they all got distracted by something or someone, until only one little boy was left. The boy knew absolutely no English. I found out that the boy was named Chris (pronounced “Crease,” because in Spanish, i makes a long e sound), and he was 3 years old. In the days that followed, Chris and I played from the time he got to Club, until the time I had to leave Club reluctantly. We didn’t talk much until the fourth and final day we were there. It was too hot to play constantly, so I racked my brain for all the Spanish I could remember from the previous school year. I found out that he loved Frisbee although he didn’t own one, his favorite color is red, his favorite food is chicken, he has four siblings, he has five fish, and he likes dinosaurs. Then I asked him who is best friend was. He didn’t say a word; all he did was point to me.
I couldn’t believe it. I had known this kid for four days, couldn’t even speak his language, and yet God has used me to impact his life and God used him to impact mine. This trip impacted how I saw serving God; if God could use me in such a dramatic way in four days, 600 miles from home, how much could He use me right in my own community? That thought has affected my life in the year since my Atlanta trip, and will continue to do so for years to come.
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