As many of you know from my last post I went on a 10-day mission trip to North Andros, The Bahamas. After such great devastation from Hurricane Matthew, this service trip was planned. Preparing to go, God put my heart in the right place. I felt at peace traveling to a new country with knowing little what to expect. At the start of the trip, I was really only close to four people, my mom, sister and two of my close friends Haley and Leyna. But about 2 days into the trip… that was certainly not the case anymore. Throughout the trip, I built strong, genuine friendships with such amazing people. I realized that the reason these friendships are so strong is that we all came for the same reason… to serve the Lord. It is truly amazing the kind of friendships woven together through serving others. Anyway, I just wanted to highlight some of the things that were very eye-opening to me on this trip, as well as things that allowed me to change my view on different aspects of life.
Holy cow. The Bahamian people are hands down the most joy-filled people I have ever met. Every single person I passed on the street gave me huge smile and a wave. In the states when you honk at somebody it’s typically not in a friendly way, but in the Bahamas, every car that passed us walking along the street gave us a friendly honk! It was awesome. After asking a couple different adults what their experience was like from Hurricane Matthew, the reoccurring phrase came up, “every day is a struggle, but God is so good to us.” I heard that so many times and boy, was I struck by their perspective. “God is so good”. How is God good to you if he took away your home? Your possessions? Everything? This was really a reality check for me. All the first world problems we face each day… pathetic. You see though, God didn’t take away everything from them. There were no deaths from the hurricane in North Andros. And that is why they say,” God is so good to us”. They repeatedly mentioned that lives were not taken. They praise God through the good times and the bad which is the perfect example of faith. After seeing their joy and happiness radiate throughout the whole island, I just wanted to pack up that love and joy in my suitcase and take it back to the states. I want to live like that.
Four of the ten days we were there, we hosted a vacation Bible school for children in four different settlements on the island. This was certainly a treat. Spending the whole day with a bunch of beautiful, respectful, polite children while singing songs, playing games and doing crafts… yeah, it doesn’t get much better than that. And when I say polite, I mean polite. Never once has a 6-year-old kid in the Unites States called me ma’am out of pure respect. Every single kid that could talk called all of the women ma’am. It was impossible not to be overcome with happiness while hanging with these stinkin cute kids. Something that I realized while spending time with them is that their life as a child is much different than a child in the U.S. Children in North Andros don’t get to go to baseball games, see movies, go to the pool or go to the amusement park. They live in a wicked hot climate, have no AC, with very little instant entertainment on the island. But you know what? They were the happiest kids I have ever met. Seeing the excitement all the children had while being handed a simple beach ball to play with really opened my eyes. What would be considered the little things in my life to them are actually the biggest things. They were not complaining. These children became examples to me. Examples of how to be happy with very little, and to not wish for any more than you have been given. These kids have inspired me in so many ways.
The island of North Andros was the most beautiful place I have ever seen. Pure white sand and the indescribable color of the crystal clear ocean. The most unique part of this island was that is was not commercialized whatsoever. There were no clothing stores, large grocery stores, no medical care, and most surprising, no tourism. When someone thinks of the Bahamas they think about the many beautiful all-inclusive resorts that are so popular. Yeah… no. Nothing of the sort was on this island. It was very spread out and the most they had for shopping was a mini mart every 10 miles or so. I enjoyed not having fast food, big stores, billboards or giant hotels surrounding me like you do in the states. Being there for 10 days naturally made me feel pretty disconnected from “my” world, and that was truly a great feeling. I felt very in touch with my surroundings and the people I was with. That is why I was able to take away so much from this trip. I was not worried about anything except what was in front of me. One thing that I realized from being disconnected was that it allowed me to appreciate the different world I was living in. I didn’t miss a thing, I took it all in and really cherished every single moment.
What I have learned:
Reflecting back on the trip I feel very thankful to have gone on a trip that not only affected others but affected myself. Coming back home I look at things in my life quite differently. I have a new view on things like money, materials, my image, and social media. It’s refreshing. Life in the Bahamas has taught be to appreciate every single thing in my life, big or small. It taught me to praise God faithfully through the bad times, not just the good. Finally, it taught me that the world is much bigger than we realize. People are struggling each and every day in all parts of the world while I’m over here worrying about which type of coffee I’m about to order. Really though… not that our struggles are not important, but it is a reality check for what we are worrying or complaining about. These people helped me remember what is truly important to me in this life. God calls us to serve. That is why we are here. Whether it is going on a trip out of the country, or holding the door for someone, it is our job to serve others. What I have learned from this trip has been so rewarding and I couldn’t be more thankful for the experience I had in the Bahamas. North Andros took a (large) piece of my heart and I just cannot wait to return. See you in 2019!