Several years ago, I went on a mission’s trip to the Philippines. I witnessed true poverty. Malnutrition and dehydration was an everyday occurrence for the poor. A small bag of rice and chicken served once a week by a local church was the biggest meal of the week. Many children couldn’t attend school because they had to peddle in the streets to provide for their family. They weaved in and out of traffic 8 hours a day, 6 days a week, missing out on a happier childhood.
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Every child in the orphanage I visited has a heartbreaking story. Rommel, a newborn, was found in a trash can. A sibling group of three were found nearly starved to death, malnourished, in a catatonic state. Bella, age 7, was found locked in a rice hut for more than a week, with no food. Since then, every time she is handed a wrapped cookie or cracker she stores it in her underwear, still fearing starvation.
I love children’s precious smiles. I love the sound of their laughter, when the cares of their world are lifted, just for a moment. Though these children have virtually nothing, they obtain true joy. This joy comes from hope, hope that someday these “orphans”, and abandoned, will have their forever family.
While in the squatter villages, I met the most content people I have ever encountered in my life. They had no material wealth, yet still were genuinely joyful. I couldn’t comprehend why many of them, especially children, were happy despite their circumstances. I learned that obtaining joy and contentment is not measured by material means, but rather by who we have and who we are in ourselves. What I learned then, will impact me for the rest of my life.
Being in the Philippines impacted my life in a way I will always hold dear. I fell in love with the children there. I fell in love with their big brown eyes that each held a story. I fell in love with their shining smiles, each unique and beautiful.
Every time I think of their smiles and big brown eyes, I hope just a little more. What I hope is that I will someday be able to have an impact in the lives of these children. Every time I wake up in the morning, I think, I can live the day to its full potential and not wait till I’m in the Philippines to start making an impact on people around me.
I came to a decision when I was boarding the plane to come back someday to live in the Philippines and care of the abandoned. I want to make it my goal to work with these children who have taught me true joy.
I am not going to save the world. I do, however, believe I can save someone’s world. I want to not only changing the worlds of individuals, but also providing the framework for future missionaries. I want to impact the lives of individuals. I want to be there for those who are in need. I want to help in the sense that I am willing to put down my own desires in order to be in someone’s life, to show them that they are valuable, they are loved, and there are people they can trust.
When I’m gone someday, I want people to remember me for what I was, who I impacted, and how I’ve made a difference. Even if I only made one feel valuable, loved, and worthwhile, then I’ve done my job in this world.
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