One of the most rewarding experiences I have encountered in my life was when I traveled with my church to Jamaica. Although it took a lot of time and dedication to prepare and raise money before the actual mission trip, the journey has made a lasting impact on me. In this poverty stricken country, I had the opportunity to travel to an orphanage and play with the children, visit the infirmary and share fellowship with the inhabitants, and volunteer my time and labor skills at the CCCD (Caribbean Christian Center for the Deaf).
Initially at the Deaf Village, it was difficult to communicate with the members, but after some long games of charades and a lot of paper and pencil, we developed our own ways of communicating. I soon discovered that we had a lot in common: we could play cards and board games together, we ate the same foods, and we knew how to laugh and have a good time. Beyond socializing with the residents, the mission team also accomplished several tasks by the end of the week: we built a wall, improved the road, painted several buildings, fixed the fences, and made homes for the cattle. It was hard work, but it was all worth it when the residents expressed their gratitude. The relationships I formed at the Jamaica Deaf Village will forever be remembered, and the memories will never be forgotten.
My personal favorite part of my visit to Jamaica was having the chance to spend time at the orphanage. This was my second time visiting an orphanage in Jamaica, so this year I was sure to come prepared. I bought several toys and balls to donate to the children, and I was ready for anything. I ended up playing a game of cricket with some of the older boys, tossed a Frisbee with the younger kids, and braided a little girl’s hair. Departing the orphanage was heartbreaking, several kids cried and begged for us to stay, but I choose instead to always remember and cherish the delicate smiles spring across all of the children’s faces while we were playing with them.
The most devastating, yet eye-opening part of the trip was the visit to the infirmary. As a teenager, it was very difficult for me to comprehend the situation. It is impossible to describe the obscene sights that I saw. From the stench of urine to the single piece of bread served for dinner, the elderly ladies had an extremely hard life, yet the thing that stumped me was the fact that the women were so positive. When we first arrived, they were all very joyful. We gathered in the center and sang songs and danced, and upon leaving, everyone was filled with sadness. From the short time I spent there, I learned that at times people forget to take a step back and realize how fortunate our health programs are in the United States.
In conclusion, this experience has allowed me to appreciate everything that I have in life, and I realize the importance of making a difference in the lives of the less fortunate. Providing the Deaf Village with new renovations, learning new things from the orphaned children, and sharing special moments with the ladies at the infirmary, helped me be grateful for my life and respect the struggles of others. All in all, words cannot describe how amazing this trip was and from it I have learned to live life to the absolute fullest; make and cherish the memories and people that you may meet; and most importantly, discover who we really are.
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