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Zambia Mission Trip, Essay Example

Pages: 3

Words: 810

Essay

When I was twelve years old I went on a missionary trip to the Republic of Zambia, a small nation in the southern part of Africa. Despite the fact that I am still young, age twelve seems a lifetime ago. I have developed a love of traveling, largely because of the experiences I had during that trip. It was intended to be an opportunity to help others, but for someone my age it was really much more an opportunity to gain something, although I did not realize it at the time.

I was only loosely associated with the religious leaders and organizers behind the mission. My family was not strongly religious, but I had some friends from school who were more active in their churches, and many of the parents of these friends were also friendly with each other. When my friend Rob told me he was going to Zambia on a mission, I announced then that I wanted to join him. There was some small amount of resistance from both my parents and from some of the organizers of the trip, as I was not an active member of the church, but this resistance soon faded in the face of my obvious enthusiasm and my stubborn refusal to take no for an answer. After a few consecutive weekends of volunteer work at the church with the youth group I was finally allowed to sign on as a member of the youth missionary team.

We were given a fair amount of information about Zambia and the economic and cultural conditions we would face there. We were also reminded (sometimes too frequently for my tastes) that we were there to spread the word of God. I did not really mind that part so much, though I did wonder why we were not just going there to do good work and let the word of God speak for itself. In the end it really did not matter, as I was going simply because it seemed exciting, exotic, and maybe even a little dangerous. I wondered if I was the only one in the youth group who felt that way, and if everyone else was going out of a much greater sense of religious duty. To be honest, I was afraid to ask anyone for fear of exposing my own lack of conviction. In hindsight I wonder if many of the other participants may have felt the same way, and may have been equally nervous or unsure about sharing those feelings.

The primary task of our youth group would be to help make minor repairs to the homes of several families living in a small village. I had seen pictures of the places we would be visiting, but I was not prepared for the reality of what I experienced there. Exhausted after what seemed like days of flying, waiting, and flying again we all just wanted to sleep once we arrived, and I soon discovered that I would be sharing a tent with another participant, as would everyone else in the group. If that has been mentioned in the prep classes, I must have missed it. I was also not prepared for the realization that my tent was likely more expensive and offered more protection against the elements than the permanent homes of some of the villagers. As this began to sink in, my entire perspective on the trip changed. Instead of viewing my life and my living by comparing it to those of my classmates and family members back home, I was suddenly able to see how fortunate I was to have a nice home and food on the table every day, and how grueling life was for those who spent all their time and their meager incomes on simply trying to survive.

The rest of the trip went by in a blur. We worked in pairs and groups of three and four, led by the various leaders and chaperones ion attendance. We patched roofs, we replaced broken window frames, we painted fresh wooden siding we hammered, we nailed, we sawed, and we sweated. As we worked we were joined by the villagers, with the younger members naturally gravitating to those of us who were about the same age. Despite some language barriers, we all managed to communicate well enough to get the job done. Later, in the evenings, we sat around campfires or inside the largest building and listened to the words of the leaders as they shared their belief in the Gospel. At the time I was too weary and excited all at the same time to pay much attention and I remember very little of what was said in those gatherings. What I do remember is what we did: we worked and laughed and ate together, the missionaries and the villagers, and for those moments the great, big world was a little smaller.

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