Last spring break, I went to Pearlington, Mississippi, with CEP Youth Leadership. We drove eighteen hours to Mississippi the Friday we got out of school for break, and we stayed for a week in Pearlington, returning the following Friday. While we were in Mississippi, we mainly helped with painting and tiling a church that had been torn apart by Hurricane Katrina. I also went with a smaller part of the group to help work on someone’s house that had been hit by the hurricane. It was really surprising to see how torn apart the parts of the house were that still existed-most of it looked like nothing had even been there. The houses that had already been rebuilt were lifted off the ground, and the people who lived there had to walk up a flight of steps just to get to their front doors.
When I had first heard about the trip, I didn’t know if I wanted to go. It was a long way away, and would last for the entire spring break. I didn’t know most of the people in the group, and I didn’t know how well I’d fit in with them. I had seen some of them at meetings for planning the trip, but I didn’t really know who they were. I was a little nervous about the trip before we left because of these concerns. It was a hard decision for me to decide whether I wanted to go or not.
During the trip, however, everyone got to know each other really well, and we had a lot of fun together while accomplishing a lot. Our group worked together with other church and youth groups from different states; some people were even from Minnesota. It felt so great knowing that I was taking part in something so generous and helpful to others. I believe in helping others and reaching out to people in times of disaster, while expecting nothing in return. So much of the world today is based on material goods, and people forget about what’s really important: sticking together and helping one another. While I gave the people in Pearlington physical help with rebuilding their church and homes, they gave me the strength of knowing that I can truly reach out and help people and make a difference in the world. To me, that’s as good a gift as any material object.
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