Children laughing, people building, connections made – all these things happened on my first mission trip to Ladyville, Belize last summer to build a church. I had no idea who any of them were nor did they know who I was. After the first day of planning and preparing the church, we became a close family. Not just the thirty of us that traveled together but even the pastor and his family, along with the other Belizean men that helped us with the church. When it was time to leave I looked down the dirt path and saw the children waving as the tears rolled down their face.
This past August we returned and the same children came running up with arms wide open to hug us. I was surprised when we returned the next year to see the positive effects of what I had done on that trip.
This time I was working on the pastor’s farm and I helped make pig pens for him. Even though it was a lot of hard work making the pig pens, laying the cement, and smoothing it out, I felt good about what I was doing. I knew Pastor Westby needed a place for the piglets to go so I was happy to help build it for him. I also had a lot of fun connecting with his son, Otis, playing stick ball and talking with him. Teaching him to play a new game was entertaining and interesting but it was also motivating to watch him teach us how to make cement. Shovels in hand, Otis showed us how to mix the powder, water, and sand together to make the perfect blend of ground for the pigs to live on. Interacting with him and having cement fights while still trying to get work done was hilarious and also showed love and compassion toward Otis.
Knowing that I can help someone even if it’s in such a small way is empowering and I look forward to doing it every day. Leaving a mark is my goal in life and every day I get closer. These experiences along with others I had have helped me to learn and understand the importance of giving myself – using my time and talents to help others also helps me to grow as a person and gives me so much more than I could hope for. Being able to go down to Belize and help the town of Ladyville was empowering for me because each year I had a different experience but knew that no matter what I did, I would change someone’s life. I believe in helping people and being a hero to them even if it’s doing a simple act.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.