This I Believe

Catherine - OKlahoma City, Oklahoma
Entered on February 7, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
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This I Believe

When I was 17 years old I went on a mission trip with my church to Peru. I was brought up Catholic and had attended Catholic schools my whole life, so I knew what I was supposed to believe in. But then again, I was an average 17-year old girl, meaning I had no real proof that what I was being taught was what I should really believe. While growing up I was beginning to see that the world is an ugly place full of ugly, selfish people. It was hard for me to understand how anyone survived in such cruelty everyday. My mom suggested I go on the church’s mission trip, and I thought it was a good idea as well. Maybe helping other people was the way to see goodness in others.

When I arrived in Peru, my friends and I were swarmed by Peruvians of all ages holding welcome signs with our names on them, handing us homemade gifts, like jewelry, and kissing our cheeks. I felt like a celebrity. They were excited that the Americans had arrived. The first thing we did after we got settled was attend an evening mass. The church was packed, and I had never seen anything like it. Everyone sang loud and participated in every aspect of the mass. I had never been to any church at home where people paid such close attention or enjoyed mass like the people of Peru did.

The rest of the week I was in Peru, I spent going into the villages delivering food and helping to rebuild houses. I got to see where these devout Catholics lived and visit with the families. Their houses were made of bamboo with dirt floors. Most homes had only one bed for the parents and another one that two or three children shared. Their bathrooms were holes in the ground and their ovens were just fire pits. It was unbelievable that people could live in conditions such as these. I was welcomed into each home with open arms and usually tears of happiness. The gratitude was immeasurable.

My week spent in Peru changed my attitude about people. I saw nothing but goodness in the eyes of the Peruvians. When I had to leave them, I broke down crying, not only because I would miss them terribly, but also because their lives were so much more fulfilling than the lives of anyone I knew back home. They had nothing material, but were far more satisfied with family and faith. The love the Peruvians shared with me is something I planned to spread to everyone back home. I am now 20 years old and sometimes it is difficult to remember what is important. I get distracted by the petty things in life, but always in the back of my mind are my friends in Peru. Their faith and love brings me back down to earth and I remember that everyone has goodness inside of them.