This I Believe

Jennifer - Knoxville, Tennessee
Entered on May 2, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
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I Believe In Making Kids Smile

Every year since I was in seventh grade I have been on a mission trip with my church. Every time I go I learn more and become more thankful for all that I have been blessed with. One trip especially stood out to me, it was about two years ago. I joined an M-Fuge group and went to Charleston, South Carolina, for two weeks. This trip taught me to appreciate my childhood and made me realize that I can help improve the lives of children in need.

On Mission Fuge everyone gets to pick a group to join. I chose the children’s ministry. My group was assigned to go to a site called the Good News Center. It was a home-based daycare center overflowing with small children. Many of the kids were Hispanic and spoke little English. I had just completed Spanish one in high school so I was about on the same level as most of the three year olds. I have a great respect for other races and this trip only allowed my respect to grow. It made me realize how lucky I was when I was a child to have had something as critical as both of my parents, and the luxury of being driven to daycare instead of walking like these kids had to.

Despite their troubles and unfavorable situations these kids had such positive attitudes. The teachers at the center were amazing, and to some of the kids they were all they had.

I believe in making kids smile. It’s so easy if you think about it, it happens all the time with the smallest amount of effort. I got to see some of the biggest and most loving smiles of my life that summer, especially when I had popsicles in my hands after lunch.

After being at the center for a week, playing in the hot Carolina sun, hugging dirty kids, and praying everyday for a better future for them, I knew that I would be coming back. I prayed and planned and since that original trip I have been back to Charleston three summers straight. Every time I go I make sure a group goes there with food, t-shirts, and toys for all the kids. It’s exciting that a little boy that was five when I met him still remembers me three years later and looks forward to seeing me every summer. I know that even if I don’t get to go there that someone else will go with the same passion and love for the little kids as I have.

When I see a child smile I know that I’ve helped them in some way, even if it was only for a minute. I am thankful because of the smiles I see. When someone does something nice for me a simple smile is all it takes to say thank you. It has blessed me so much to be a part of these kids’ lives and I can’t wait to go back and see their smiling faces again this summer.