This I Believe

Hannah - Wichita, Kansas
Entered on November 12, 2006

Changing the World, One Mission Trip at a Time

Every summer that I can remember, the youth group at my church embarked on a mission trip with the intent to work for those less fortunate in places near and far. When they returned they were confident that they changed the world, at least one person’s world. Mahatma Gandhi once said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Likewise, I believe in an individual’s power to change the world.

As a child, I eagerly awaited the return of the high school “mission trippers”, as the youth who go on mission trips are called. I couldn’t wait to see how their work changed the world. They became my idols. I wished to go to the places they visited; I wanted to change lives in the same way they did. I counted down the years until it would be my turn to go out into the world on a mission to be the hands and feet of Christ. Finally my chance came in the seventh grade. Since that year I have participated in four mission trips but none so influential as my trip to Springfield.

The week in Missouri changed me in more ways than I can count. While other trips inspired me, it was in Springfield, as I worked alongside my peers building wheelchair ramps, I realized I wanted to dedicate my life to changing the world. The first family we built a wheelchair ramp for was desperately in need. Their run down house soon became lovingly nicknamed “The Junk House”. For several years the father of the family had been in a wheelchair. His daughter, Marissa, about my age, clearly experienced more sorrow than anyone in my group. At first Marissa watched from inside the house. Then after a day she began to ask if she could help. Clearly the infectious cheerful attitude, exuded by the group, spread to Marissa and her family. With each nail I hammered in and every cut I made with the saw it became increasingly clear that my actions were changing Marissa’s world. My actions showed her the power of kindness. After completing the wheelchair ramp, my group held a service to bless the ramp and the family. As the service progressed it became clear that my simple act of participating changed the whole world for this family. We gave them not only a wooden wheelchair ramp, but also the gifts of love and kindness.

I may not have found the cure for cancer but I did discover the power of an individual. Springfield showed me that it does not take an extraordinary act to change the world. Changing the world begins with simple smile, a cheerful wave, or the swing of a hammer.