This I Believe

Ugo - BEAVERTON, Oregon
Entered on September 20, 2007
Age Group: Under 18

Helping others is probably one of the most generous acts of kindness one can exhibit. One person can make a significant difference, and, without a doubt, small contributions can have a big impact on society.

During the summer of my 10th grade in high school, my high school youth group at my church went on a mission trip to southern Texas. Our goal was to repair and paint the sidings of seven separate houses. The area was very destitute and poor, and it was a predominantly Spanish-speaking area of the city.

During the duration of our mission trip, the sun was always beating down on our backs, and there were times when I said that I could no longer go on. Nonetheless, I pushed through until the end. The homeowners would bring us water, and tell us, “Muchos gracias por su ayuda. El Dios le bendice todo,” which translates to, “Much thanks for your help. God bless you all.”

Everyday we were working, it would bring tears to my eyes, witnessing the living conditions of these families. There were about five or six people living in a one bedroom house, which normally, would barely house three people. On some of the houses, there were places where waste and water leaked out. The stench was unbearable. Little cess pools formed from the waste water, and I could see all the mosquitoes flying in and out of the homes.

The home I remember most was the home of Mrs. Elaina Rodriguez. I remember her crying when we told her that we were coming to fix and remodel her home. She said that it’s been 10 long years since she’s been praying for someone to help her with her house. She had been praying to St. Michael, and St. Michael was the name of the youth group in Texas that we were on mission with. What a coincidence.

As time went on, I found myself using more and more Spanish to converse with the various families. When we were done with the houses, we showed each family what we had done. I felt so accomplished with myself, and with everybody else. A part of me was so satisfied, and I thought to myself as we were packing up to leave, “This is a once in a lifetime experience and I will forever remember it.”

My experience has allowed me to see that helping others is also helping me to become a better person. Not everything in life is about my own personal gain. There is more to it than that. The feeling I get when I help someone for no reward IS a reward in itself. It is a good way for me to learn to value myself, as I realize that the world is becoming a better place because of my contribution, and I can’t think of a better reward than that.