Once again we bounced across the dusty, pothole-laden streets, each ditch painfully jarring our posteriors on the rigid wooden seats. With sweat running down my back and stinging my eyes, I jumped off the bus and kicked aside my shoes, ready for a game of freeze-tag or soccer with the growing crowd of expectant kids. Later, we raced to a small community center to sing songs, listen to my classmates tell Bible stories, and color together.
Our mornings were spent at a variety of work sites. We helped run a small medical clinic for locals, paint a boat, rebuild a broken home, and play with children at an orphanage on the outskirts of town. When not working or hosting VBS, we toured the hot and muggy markets, played volleyball at our home base, journeyed into the jungle, and boated on the Amazon River, breathing in the sights or this new and unfamiliar culture.
Some say service comes at a price. Delirious nights of heat, the perpetual assault of blood-sucking mosquitoes, cold showers, sub-par sanitation. But this is not the price I paid. I looked into the eyes of hurting, abused girls and saw hope and trust, not self-pity. I walked through the blood soaked markets and observed smiling and contented people working in horrific conditions simply to provide a meal for their family. I watched communities emerge from their dilapidated, barely water-proof shacks and come together each night to play, talk, and engage as neighbors. Service does come at a price. I forfeited my right to ever complain, to ever wish for more, to ever feel an ounce of ingratitude. I was painfully reminded how much I have been given and how much I take for granted.
With great blessings comes great responsibility. I have been offered a life free from abuse, hunger, and homelessness. I have been given opportunities, education, and freedom. But every gift from God comes with an instruction—serve. 1 Peter 4:10 says: “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (ESV). I have been granted unfathomable gifts; God is calling me to share. Service is more than a two week mission trip. It’s daily sacrifice, a helping hand, a listening ear, a smile. This is my commission and duty. Will I obey?