This I Believe

Courtney - Mesa, Arizona
Entered on April 1, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
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I believe in… Serving Others

My calves ached, but he said it was only a little farther. My body

felt as if it had been in a torture chamber for the last two hours. It must have had something to do with the 40 pounds hanging off of two straps on my shoulders. Or maybe it was the sweltering heat making my skin sizzle. Or maybe that I had never bothered to train for a ten mile hike down to Havasupai when the extent of my daily exercise was usually walking from my house to my car. Whatever the reason was, all I could think about was getting to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

Once I reached the bottom my one thought was how in the world I was ever going to make it back out two days later. Maybe I could call my parents and beg for money to ride on a helicopter ride back to the top. Maybe I would just have to stay down there for the rest of my life. It seemed impossible.

I was exhausted, so I was kind of annoyed when I found out that we were going straight to a preschool to help take care of some toddlers instead of our campsite to get some sleep. I had done service for other people before, but I had never had to hike ten miles in the heat to get to the people I wanted to help.

We had to walk a mile just to get there. Their preschool was rundown and looked like it had never received any maintenance. It only had one window and it was broken. Tiles had fallen off the roof. It must have leaked when it rained. I walked through the screechy screen door and saw twelve little two and three year-olds sitting quietly at a table. Anyone who has ever been in close proximity with a two or three year olds knows that this is extremely unusual. We had to do something to cheer them up. We made puppets out of paper plates with them and performed a little puppet show.

They loved it.

Their faces lit up like it was Christmas. They laughed and hugged us and wouldn’t let us leave. We stayed a little bit longer and made necklaces with them. When we left, they were excited and bouncing off the walls just like normal toddlers. We were only there for a little while and it didn’t take much time, but it was my favorite part of the trip.

The next thing I knew the weight of my backpack was on me again and my calves were aching. But this time, something was different. It wasn’t just about me anymore. I knew that it was going to be hard to hike out, but I knew that it had been worth it to come. Giving service to those sweet little children made it all worth it. Just seeing the effect that I had on those little kids helped strengthen my belief in serving others because now I know that I can make a difference.