There are times in this world when we wonder what purpose our life serves. We wonder why we should help others instead of helping ourselves. We wonder exactly what sacrifice means. I have learned through trial and error the real meaning of sacrifice. It’s more than just showing up to help build a house. It’s being excited about being there to build that house. Sacrifice isn’t just about what you physically give, but what you emotionally can give as well. I have learned when volunteering, to be happy with what time you are given to work with.
This summer I had the privilege to travel to Africa and do volunteer work. I volunteered an entire month. When I signed up, I had no idea what was ahead of me. I didn’t realize there would be a shortage of food, no electricity, no running water, no plumbing, or that we would be sleeping in tents for an entire month. Yet, I survived. We helped the people of Africa with what little we had to offer them. We could offer them knowledge and love. I learned during my month excursion that volunteering is not how much you physically do; not how much you can give to the people. In Africa I learned what it is to be humble.
What it meant to truly put others before yourself. When I had to tell young children about AIDS, a disease that terrorizes their country, I felt like I might as well go home. I figured, who is going to listen to some white girl who lives in America. But, then when a child you spoke to grabs your hand and thanks you for helping their country, you realize it was all worth it. You realize that you did make a difference, and no matter what hardships you have gone through, you’ve helped.
Not all of us here are meant to go to Africa and serve. That’s okay. We can all serve in our communities and our towns; whether it is giving someone an encouraging word, or helping out with your school’s chapter. When I was in Africa, I had to learn to work with all different kinds of people; people from all over the country and all over the world. I worked with people from all different backgrounds, religions, and families. All sixty of us had our own experiences to add to the mission field. That’s what made the work in Africa so successful.
Freshman or senior, young or old, big or small, we are all here to work together to accomplish one goal today-to learn from each other. Take risks today, talk to someone you don’t know, make a friend, encourage a stranger. Lets all pull together to work not as separate SLS Chapters, but as one team. Let’s show your school chapter and the State of Michigan what we can do when we put our effort into it.