This I Believe

Janel - Lenexa, Kansas
Entered on January 26, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
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The Eyes of My Hero

I have always believed in giving back to my community. It seemed though, that my “giving back” was actually making others do the work. My money went into the Salvation Army bell ringers’ kettle and I thought that was good enough. I was selfish. And where did I go to realize this? Janos, Mexico. Where else?

Janos, Mexico was a place unknown to me but not now. That place’s discoveries have carved themselves into my heart; turning and twisting and wringing themselves to become a part of me. Never did I expect that one little girl in one little village would change my life, especially when I went to change hers.

Last summer I was headed to the village with my youth group. Our group of teenagers was part of a program called Extreme Mission. Our group went to work at a migrant workers’ camp in Janos. There we would among other things prepare food and fellowship with young and old. We worked at a camp with one hundred inhabitants. They lived in horse stalls. Horse stalls! When we arrived the kids started running around with excitement. Most of them were confused but they were excited to see a bunch of “white” people. As we arrived my eyes locked with two dark chocolate eyes, eyes that would haunt my dreams for weeks to come.

I became friends with the owner of the eyes, Annael, a five year old. On the last missions trip I had worked with the poor people from the city of Juarez. They were nothing compared to Annael’s people. Never had I witnessed a family each eating a slice of pepper with a sliver of cheese melted on top for dinner. They hadn’t eaten in two days. The first day my group cooked soup to feed the children. Waiting the children formed a line. Patiently Annael watched her younger sisters go before her. I was floored that a five year old would do such an act. And as we waited in line she did something that changed me forever. We had only known one another for a short time and our communication was problematic but that did not deter Annael from reaching out. She grasped my hand. Through tears I was taken aback once more. She hugged me.

Serve. This is my belief. I had taken only the easy road with the Bell Ringers but I haven’t after Annael. I was letting others serve for me and now I can’t imagine myself had I not met my hero. A hero who’s picture is tacked on my door. Everyday she reminds me of where I’ve been and where I want to go. I know Annael family have migrated since summer to find work and I take comfort knowing that this young girl will grow up touching more people along the way. And I know that her eyes will first captivate those people like they did a girl from Kansas.