On my spring break service trip, I was expecting to help people out, make some new friends and have a good time. What I wasn’t expecting was to find something that would completely open my eyes and possibly change my life forever.
When I set off for Delaware this spring break, I was expecting to get the same great things out of it as last year, when I spent the week in Alabama. What I didn’t know was that I was going to encounter those things and so many more.
I was told that we would be helping with an after school program called Urban Promise. I did not know much about the program other than that we would be helping with inner-city school children.
My parents both told me to be careful in the city, and on more than one occasion my father told me not to walk around the city alone. He wanted to make sure I knew that the city was not a safe place to be.
Once I arrived at the school, I was hit with culture shock. My parents were right. The city was a very different place even than Kansas City where I was raised. I wasn’t scared for my well being necessarily, instead, what I was deathly terrified for was the children.
All of the children we helped with had gone through and seen so many horrible things in their lives; things that I have never once had to worry about. They have seen people they love brutally killed, cops come and take their families and much more. Despite everything they have been through, they all seem to have so much love for the world and they show so much potential.
Urban Promise is an amazing program. The organization is trying to take these children off the streets while helping them to believe in themselves, fight barriers and make something of themselves. Most of all, Urban Promise is putting positive role models in the children’s lives and helping them to find God.
Every day I played sports and just talked with the children and it seemed to mean so much to them. Some of the other Simpson students helped kids write papers about an influential black or Hispanic person in history.
I was going to the children with the mind set that I was going to maybe play with them and help them out, but instead they helped me.
Right before the trip I was getting excited because I had finally decided what I wanted to major in. Things were looking up because I thought that I maybe had an idea of what I wanted to do with my life, but after the trip I just became more confused.
Throughout the whole trip and even after I came back, my mind was just being pulled back to the children. I finally figured out that I want to help youth learn about God or just help youth out in some form in the future.
One of the leaders of Urban Promise told us that these people were achieving amazing things, but you never had the chance to read about them in the newspapers. After hearing that, a light bulb clicked on and I figured out that if I decided to stick with writing. maybe I could somehow help this wonderful program get publicity. Maybe I could write about these amazing children and how they have been such great role models in others’ lives.
Like last year, I made new friends from campus, people that I had never talked to before the trip. They helped me understand why I love helping people, and they only made my love for God grow stronger.
The trip was made of many great memories. It will be an event that I will remember forever and one that has changed my future for me. At the end of the trip on our way home we were able to find the perfect ending to our great experience, or maybe God was able to give us one last gift. When we were driving through Pennsylvania we saw a man dressed as Santa Claus running on the side of the road. Santa told us about his love for God, about how maybe there was a reason God brought us to him and about how he loves to make people smile and help them out. After listening to him, I realized that we were trying to do what Santa does every day of his life.
It was inspirational getting to hear other students’ testimonies about their time spent on their various projects, worshiping with the students and spending close quality time with the students from Simpson. The trip helped me to realize a lot of things, but most of all it just reconfirmed my faith and it helped me open my eyes to see what I want to do with my future.