This I Believe

Leah - Park City, Utah
Entered on June 1, 2006
Age Group: Under 18
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Count Your Blessings Everyday

I have been blessed all my life with a loving family, a safe community to live in, an abundant amount of food, a sturdy roof over my head, and an opportunity to receive a great education. As a young child, my parents always told me I should be thankful for these things, but it took a recent experience for me to finally grasp their wise words. Last summer, the summer before my senior year in high school, I had the opportunity to go to Peru with a team of medical personnel to do humanitarian medical aid work. The first time I laid eyes on the impoverished Peruvian communities in which we worked, my eyes welled up with tears. They were destitute, dilapidated, and bare; the people were sick, were run-down, and obviously had very little to their names. Living in such pitiable conditions, they were incredibly thankful for every bit of help we offered. Working two weeks of long days was exhausting, but seeing the smiles on the peoples’ faces after I helped them, made my efforts worth it.

Living such a posh life, I at first found it hard to understand what life in the Peruvians’ world-without-luxuries would be like. After my emotional and powerful service experience, however, I was left with a new outlook on life. I realized that I take too much for granted: I am able to watch TV whenever I please, run on a treadmill during bad weather, or use toilet paper and Kleenex, without giving my activities a second thought. Furthermore, I can worship my God without worry of persecution, express my political opinions without fear of death, and read my books without concern of punishment. It is disheartening to know that not only the Peruvians, but also many other people around the world are not able to enjoy freedoms similar to these. Many more simply struggle to find food and keep a roof over their heads, let alone enjoy extra comforts.

I believe it is important to give to those less fortunate. How could I live my life with so much, knowing that someone else may be dying of hunger? It has now, since my Peru trip, become an essential part of my life to give up time and energy to help others, but not because I feel guilty. I have learned to by thankful for all I have and to not take things for granted, because I know that at any point in time, some terrible thing could happen and I might end up homeless on the streets or without a family, like some of the Peruvians I worked with. Living a blessed life is not wrong, as long as I continually thank God for the myriad blessings he has bestowed upon me. Counting my blessings everyday has allowed me to live a fulfilled life and reach out to others in love, not guilt. I believe in the necessity of daily thankfulness to allow me to live life to the fullest extent, knowing that any moment may bring terror or joy. And no matter what events the day may bring, I will always find something to be thankful for.