|As we embrace the New Year in the wake of a recession and open our eyes to what the world has to offer in 2009, it is important to keep everything in perspective. Stepping into the shoes of others who are struggling and extending a helping hand to those crying out for help has helped me and my kids put the lens of our lives back into focus. Traveling to Peru on a humanitarian trip with Mariners Church and helping families in need during the holidays left a lasting impression on my kids, who seem to be racing toward adulthood. Each of them has experienced the true spirit of giving and been transformed by the power of helping others. Below are some snapshots from each of them on their experiences in helping people in Peru this past summer and spending the holidays giving to families in need locally.
“Going on a mission trip to Peru was my dad’s idea, and I wasn’t sure what the experience would be like or how it would change me. On our first day, my dad, sister and I put together wheelchairs as a team. Afterward, there was a crowd of people, and we distributed them to the disabled who had never been able to get around by themselves. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I met a mother whose youngest child could not walk and had seizures, a man who was paralyzed from a gunshot and a family of seven who slept in a space the size of my room. Seeing the villages with grass huts along the Amazon River reminded me that these families didn’t have any of the conveniences I was used to. I met people who had major diseases and were missing arms and legs. This trip helped me to see how other people live and continue to smile, despite their daily struggles. I hope that I will keep these images in my mind as I face challenges in my everyday life. ”
– Maddy, 16-years-old
“When I got home for Christmas break [from boarding school in Pennsylvania] my dad asked me to get to work compiling a Santa’s list for some needy families in the area with the help of one of his colleagues. We had gotten requests through some community groups for basic supplies like blankets, food and toilet paper. I was pretty surprised because these were the same things we gave to people in Peru; I guess I didn’t think people here needed them, too. As I shopped for the items, I got more and more excited. I thought about the parents and kids who really needed this stuff, and I couldn’t wait to give it to them. When we met the families, we became friends pretty fast, as we started to play and sing Christmas songs with the children. Some of the moms had escaped abuse or been abandoned and were struggling to provide for their kids. I became friends with a little boy named Amani who had big brown eyes and curly hair. I couldn’t stop holding him and wanted him to know how much I cared. When we gave each family their gifts, one mother told us she didn’t know how she was going to put food on the table for Christmas, much less provide gifts for her kids. I was happy to help them.”
– Danielle, 13-years-old
My hope is that each of my kids will use these moments to continue to give of themselves as they journey through life, reminding all of us of what’s truly important.