Going Outside Ourselves: Why you should travel and serve
There’s nothing quite like booking a trip to a place you’ve never been before. What will the people be like? How will the food taste? What will I use for transportation? So many exciting experiences lay ahead. When I was 18 and about to graduate high school I was asking myself these questions as my first big adventure to travel and serve lay ahead. For as long as I could remember I wanted to go and see the world, experience new cultures, meet new people and mostly, help as many people as I could along my way(travels).
I was headed to Ecuador. I decided to go through a specific organization, but wasn’t going with anyone that I previously knew. Being a somewhat reserved person, this was a big leap for me. I remember my mom watching me as I went through security and giving her one last wave goodbye. I was on my way! The first thing I learned from this experience was, there are so many good people in this world. Before I even hit the ground in Ecuador I met people who could tell I was anxious and were willing to help me.
The feeling of landing and walking out into Ecuador for the first time was amazing. I was so excited! I met up with the group I was serving with for the next two weeks and we immediately started getting to know each other. Other 18 year olds just like me, families, people in their 50’s, I thought the variety of people was so cool.
Throughout my time in Ecuador I mostly served in orphanages working with children and assisting the caretakers. We would take donations to the kids, play with them, help them with their therapies and much more. Before leaving I had hoped that I would have a special connection with one of the kids. Sure enough that happened. The sweetest little 2 year old and I become instant best friends the first day I walked through the door. She ran up to me, through her arms around my neck and was out of control laughing. She was contagious.
Two weeks went by quicker than I had hoped. I debated staying longer, and was devastated when my time came to go home. How could I leave these precious kids? They had nothing and I was headed home to everything. Easy access to food, a bed, family, clothes, clean water. As I left one of the orphanages for the last time, tears rolled down my face. I was thinking about how I had changed over my time in Ecuador. I had come to care so much less about myself, and so much more about others. It was amazing to me how quickly I had come to love these little angels.
That was it. One trip and I was hooked. I think that everyone should experience something like this at least once in their lives. Taking time away from our lives to go outside ourselves and serve those who don’t have the luxuries that we do can make us so much better.