Roughing It

Audrey - Signal Mountain, Tennessee
Entered on January 12, 2009
Age Group: Under 18
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100° weather, hundreds of mosquitoes, and the hard ground. Last summer, I went on a mission trip with St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church. We traveled to Heifer Ranch in Kentucky and stayed there for about a week. On the third day, all two hundred teens staying at the ranch were called to a special meeting. We were going to have to split up and scatter ourselves throughout different impersonations of third world countries. I decided to be apart of the Urban Slums in rural Africa. I started dreading the situation before I was even put into it.

I arrived at the camp to find three shelters made out of rusting tin and cardboard with the dirt as the floor. All forty of us quickly ran to try to find the “best” shelter but we all know that was a lost cause. I then walked to the measly campfire only to find a small container of rice. To drink and cook, we had to make the long hike to Guatemala to pump water from a well and also give them some of our rice. To eat vegetables, we had to travel to the refugee camp on the outskirts of Darfur and donate a portion of the rice. We received one egg when we gave half of our rice to Thailand. I had to work to get the things I wanted. I was learning that they are not just handed to me.

That night, we made a fire and cooked the rice with the one egg and one and a half carrots. As I was going through the line to eat what seemed like a feast at this point, I put one small spoonful of the half-cooked, crunchy rice on my plate. A question ran through my mind. “What if they think I am taking too much?” I self- consciously took my food back to the tent to eat. At that point, I was miserably sweating from the beating sun and dirt was covering my skin. Later, I helped hand wash all the dishes in a pale of dirty water. After my hands had turned into prunes, I made my way back to the shelter for sleep. I was tossing and turning all night on the rock hard surface.

At the crack of dawn, everyone woke up and did chores resembling those of each different third world country. Around noon, we were released to go and take hot showers. This is something I took for granted at home. As I was scrubbing the dirt off my skin, I started to realize that these people put me in that situation for a reason. I started to ponder what it was and I finally figured it out. The reason was that they did not want us to take our luxuries for granted. Everyday I take a shower, sleep on a soft bed, eat three plentiful meals, and go to school. Ever since, I have tried to go by this lesson that I learned. I believe I should not take anything for granted because not many people are as lucky as I am.