As most of you know I just got home from a week in the Dominican Republic. Through the financial help of friends and family I was able to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the community in El Carrizal. Can I just say if you have yet to go on a mission trip I HIGHLY encourage it! You don’t have to be a believer to go and serve these people on mission but I can guarantee you’ll come back one. The Lord is so good and so faithful. Before I left I had no idea what to expect I just kept praying that God would use me to bring glory to His name. The devil tried to attack my mind leading up to the trip telling me I’m just one person, still young at that, what did I have to give/offer?? But I kept trusting the Lord knowing that He doesn’t call the qualified, rather he qualifies those he’s called. For an entire week I got to spend time with the staff and workers of One More Child, the team from my church, a team that traveled from palm coast and best yet the children and families that live in the El Carrizal community. It’s crazy how the Lord can bring a group of completely different people together and mend them into a family. The whole week I was working and playing with strangers that felt like family. We built two houses while we were there and then prayed over them and the people that would be blessed by them. I wasn’t qualified going into this trip to build a house!! God made me qualified! Might I mention the only Spanish I know is whatever I can remember from my high school Spanish 1 & 2 class. Guys we went into a community where those children knew no English yet through Jesus we were able to show and share His love with them anyways! Language was not a boundary. The moment I arrived on day 1 was Sunday morning to attend the community church service. The moment I stepped through that door I had kids run up to me and latch on to me leading me to the seat they had picked out. From that moment on I had a child on one hip with three managing to hold the hand on that side and on the other I had one under my arm with two to three holding the other hand. These kids weren’t interested in recess and playing games they just wanted to know love and be loved. They didn’t care that more then half the time I didn’t understand them they were just so appreciative that I was there with them giving them my affection. Something I learned while I was away was how THANKFUL they are for the little that they have. Driving up the mountain through the town we saw dilapidated houses that looked like they were destroyed by a hurricane, meaning they might have been missing an entire wall, had no doors or windows, dirt floors, must I go on? My last day there I wanted to pass out bracelets I brought with me (they were the WWJD ones) for those of you that don’t know I wear a black one every day. I told each of the kids what it stood for. Their faces were filled with excitement that they too would get to wear the bracelet. I almost felt like some sort of Santa based on their reactions. It cost me $10 to buy a pack of 50 bracelets but they’re reactions and thankfulness was worth much much more then that. It made me think of so many people over here that expect gifts and not just any gift but the newest, latest thing. I pray for the people of this country rich and poor that we acquire a grateful heart, the same heart of the children in El Carrizal. Something else I noticed was that though these people were living in these conditions they were treating their belongings better then people I know that have nice & expensive things. I specifically remember seeing a lady outside sweeping the leaves in her dirt yard and thinking why bother? And the answer is because they’re thankful for what they have and they treat it that way. We don’t know poor like they do over there. You take what we see as poor in our inner cities and play the comparison game…they start to look wealthy. Not to downplay their conditions but it really opened my eyes to how fortunate we are over here and that most people don’t even see it. It really opened my eyes to the fact that there are SO many people that have the privilege of living in the United States yet don’t see it as one because they don’t fully understand what it’s like being somewhere else in the world. Something else that stuck out to me was the fact that there are entire communities in the world that do not have cell phones and technology like we do here. Over here we find that often times even homeless people have cell phones. If you take a drive through just about any neighborhood here in the states you see very few kids outside playing…scratch that. The only people you typically see outside are people working on the houses (yard, roof, mailman, etc). While I was away I witnessed not only kids outside playing but men and women everywhere working, playing, enjoying each other’s company. Those people were so full of life and rich in relationship, something I strongly believe were missing. We are living so fast pace that we forget to put our technology and entertainment down and enjoy each other. These are just few of many things the Lord opened my eyes to. As I got on a plane to come home late Friday night I was filled with so much emotion. My heart was full of love for the people I encountered throughout the week. I was so broken knowing that here I was 24 on my very FIRST mission trip now knowing how the majority of the rest of the world really looks. In America we live in boxes. We’re so caught up in our own lives living fast pace so quick to ignore things that don’t directly effect us. But this is SO wrong. There might always be hungry and hurting people out there but it isn’t right to sit back and look at the statistics and think that it isn’t our business to drop those numbers. WE ARE CALLED. To go, to love, to serve and to make a difference.