Friday, February 24, 2012

Just a few hours away

It is Friday night and I am just a few hours away from leaving for New Orleans. What am I doing? Homework. While I tried and tried to stay ahead of my work this week and get things accomplished, I still have a few assignments to turn in. I am so ready to be done and go on this trip. I can’t wait to go somewhere where I will have the chance to get out of my daily life and start to gain a new perspective on the lives of others. At school, I get so entrenched in my work and in they things that I feel as though I “have” to do, that sometimes I do not take enough time out of my day to think about the world around me.

I’ve been to the Gulf Coast to do Hurricane Katrina work before; I went in the fall of my senior year of high school. That trip, even though it was years ago, is still an experience that I consider to have had a major impact on my life. While some may say that I enjoyed my trip to Mississippi so much because it was the first time I was away from home and on my own, I think the real reason it had such an effect on me was because it was the first time I realized how good it felt to go somewhere new, learn about others, and through learning about them, learn how to help.

While working at a site on my first trip, a group of us found an old wooden chair in a pile of debris in the back yard. In the evenings after we worked on a house for an elderly woman called GiGi, we sanded the chair, painted it, and had everyone from our group put some finishing touches on it. At the end of the week, when GiGi came to see the progress we had made on her home, we unveiled our chair. Everyone was really proud of our creation—it definitely looked good—but what made the moment so special was when GiGi told us that we had restored one of her old dining room chairs and that she was so excited to have it back in her new home. Having lost almost everything, our little chair was more significant than we realized.

I don’t really know what I will encounter in New Orleans; I’m open to anything. Excited to go, I hope to spend the week meeting new people and gaining new experiences. I went on my first trip not knowing what to expect and I was blown away by the amount I learned and the change that seemed to come over me. I’ve gone on multiple mission trips since then, and I am sure this one will be just as meaningful. Melissa

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