This blog is a little different, I’m sharing a story of a little boy I met ten years ago. I’m sharing his story.
Through my years going on different mission trips and experiencing new places and people majority of the lessons I’ve learned comes down to these two things.
There is power in listening to people’s stories, these are our greatest examples of hope.
Love truly changes lives.
The first time I stepped out of my comfort zone and directly into others lives without fully understanding or comprehending it was my church’s first middle school mission trip. I remember hearing my pastor talk about how this would be life changing and “good for young teens” signing up with no clue what would happen during a week in Mississippi. This was after Hurricane Katrina after many families were displaced and hurting and left in devastation with little or no help from anyone.
Our week there was spent rebuilding and painting homes as well as connecting and bonding with the local community. I remember getting close with the little girl who my group was particularly helping. I remember walking through the rainy streets of a local neighborhood in a small and rural town in Mississippi as she told me the different stories of the families that lived there, one sadder than the next.
Although I was in middle school this impacted me greatly, and everyone else on the trip. I remember nearing the end of the street when a little boy in a white t-shirt stood behind the frame of a broken down door looking at the two of us walking down the street. I asked what his name was and what his story was. I honestly do not remember now, I know his story broke my heart, but I will never forget him, and think and pray for him often.
His name was “Mine” and he eventually came behind the door and we bonded and spent the whole week together. He would eat lunch with my group everyday and we would spilt peanut butter and jelly wonder bread sandwiches, he wore my sunglasses and taught me how to dance to the cupid shuffle with other friendly children on his block. I remember one dance party after lunch in a cracked pavement driveway and just laughing and swinging all the kids around. I’m sure every other middle schooler on this trip could remember that dance party also. Mine and I were together the whole time, he even started to help us repaint the home we were working on and introduced me to his friends that started to come around as well. He also wanted to give back to his community although no one ever helped him. He started be affected and changed by love. His rough and mature exterior started to soften and I could see him smile behind the hurt in his young eyes.
I remember the last day it was raining, we were all in clear plastic ponchos putting the finishing touches on the home. I remember knowing we would leave that day and maybe never return again. This reality shook me to my core. And then it was time for goodbyes, we took our last pictures with all the local kids on our disposal cameras and prayed for each other one last time knowing we might not ever see these people again.
I walked Mine to the end of the street for the last time and my heart felt so heavy not knowing what life would have in store for this young child but holding onto to something that God had our paths crossed for a reason.
I might not ever see or hear about this boy again, but I know his story and his willingness to share with me, and be open to feeling love changed my life. And he holds a very special place in my heart.
This mission trip opened my eyes to so much, and I felt as if I had popped this bubble that I had been living in prior. There were so many people in our own country, and the world living in terrible condition with no one to talk to, to listen to them to open their arms and love them. I remember going home after that trip and hugging my parents a little tighter that night.
I will be sharing more of these personal stories from different individuals on different trips that impacted me in different ways, some that I have the privilege of seeing again some that only remain in my memory. Either way I want to share these stories as resources of hope and inspiration for anyone reading that when we listen and love others we can change the world.
Here are two pictures I found from this trip in my room
Thanks for reading,
you are all loved.
What ever you do to the least of my brothers that what you do to me. – Jesus
To love is to serve
I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the father except through me. John 14:6