Several times in my life I have been on mission trips and had the opportunity to be in a setting with people whose experiences are different from mine. I visited Galveston, Texas for five days on a mission trip with my church group; I went to be the hands and feet of Christ, and to share God’s love with others.
Throughout the week I met with several different people. Most of those people had experienced things that I never wish to experience. I made new friends that are similar to me; they believe in Jesus and so far they have grown up without any trouble. On the other hand, I met children that fear for their lives, that are afraid that they will be shot, that either don’t have a mother or a father, that live with only a couple pairs of hand-me-down clothes, that just want to care for their parent but are not allowed to, that have a parent that does not want them, that have a parent that would rather die than live to help them, and that live in poverty. Also, I interacted with homeless people in a soup kitchen and on the streets of Galveston. I heard their stories. Some of these adults are homeless because they spent all of their money on drugs and alcohol, but another adult lost her home and her children due to a house fire. These people of Galveston differ from me in ways that I would never have imagined without meeting them. I live in a safe environment, I rarely feel afraid, I have two very loving parents, I have too many clothes, I am allowed to express my emotions freely in my household, and I live in an estate neighborhood. I do not do drugs or go out and drink alcohol, and I’ve never lost a household family member. But the people that I met, have experienced all of those things. It was tough to hear them tell their stories, while I listened and realized that my life has never been as dramatic or scary as theirs, and all the assets I’ve owned in only one room can equal up to these families’ salaries. I took great things away from this mission trip. I will never forget the amazing love that I felt and how it changed me in one night.
On the last night of the trip, my church hosted a party at the community center for the children and their families of the community to come play at the park and eat hot dogs with us. The party was successful I would say. I do not believe that there was one non-smiling face throughout the entire evening. Although I told myself at the beginning of the party that I would not sweat, I walked away from it drenched. My armpits were perfectly fine while eating, because I hadn’t made much of an attempt to do anything yet. Then the music playlist began, and of course the cha cha slide played and the song managed to drag everyone to the dance floor. At that moment, I thought to myself, “oh no, the dryness is over”. Instead of standing on the sidelines watching everyone else dance, I joined in right away. I didn’t dance for myself, but more for God. God called me to the dance floor to give me the opportunity to love on those kids. I loved on them as if they were my own children. We danced, we held hands in a big circle while swaying and jumping, we laughed, we sang with the songs, and we all smiled with the biggest grins of our lives. From that point on my worry of sweating vanished and the only thing to concentrate on was making sure the kids were having more than a good time. One time during the event this silly little girl came up to me asking me to hold her. So I picked her up, and placed her right on my hip. Suddenly she pulls out a blue heart stamp, and began stamping all over my face. In a way I was shocked. I had not expected her to stamp my forehead and cheeks as I held her. Thankfully she listened when I kindly held my free arm out for her to stamp that instead. Later, I departed from the dance floor, and was immediately grabbed by another precious girl asking me to push her on the swing, and how could I say no. I was pushing her pretty high, when another sweet girl asked me to push her as well. There I was pushing two little angels on the swings and they kept commanding me “higher, higher”. I fell in love with every little face there. Giving away myself for others’ benefit is one of the best feelings I have ever enjoyed. Seeing rare smiles on those children’s faces while knowing that God did that by using me, is magical. I pray that these children’s lives have been changed and continue to change and that the children see God more clearly. I love those children. I always will. God showed me that I can be a hope in a community. Now when the children see white people in their community they no longer say “here come the white people”, now they say “here comes The Church”. This experience never ceases to amaze me by showing God’s power and love. We, Christ’s followers, are truly changing lives in the projects of Galveston.
From the mission trip, I bring back knowing that loving someone in a Godly way is the greatest way to change a life. From being in an unfamiliar location I was tested on whether I could be vulnerable and let something bigger than myself take over. I am now more open to show God’s love to others. I hope to make an impact on more lives as I grow older. May God use me a million more times. Glory to God.
Written By: Kylie Porter,
Cypress UMC Youth & Volunteer