I live in a home with three bedrooms. Three showers. A walk-in closet. Five rooms that are completely empty because I don’t know what to do with them. I literally have more space than I know what to do with.
Last Saturday I delivered food to families whose homes are probably no bigger than my bedroom. Their entire home. The walls are made of sheets of aluminum or metal signs found in the garbage dump. Their floors are dirt and rock. I don’t know whether there is electricity, or running water.
|photo credit for all photos in this post goes to Annette and Joel|
I assure you they are not thinking about things like when the gardener can come to cut the lawn, or whether the maid missed a spot while dusting.
We live in different worlds.
In the same city.
Saturday morning, Annette took a group of our students and teachers to Zone 3 and the neighborhoods that have grown up around the city garbage dump. For the past few years, before she started working at our school, Annette worked with a group called Young Life who helps young mothers in that community.
That day, we packed food for 30 families into bags—about enough to last each family a week or so. The bags were filled with rice, beans, sugar, coffee, butter, oil, oatmeal, soap, and a few other small things.
Then, grabbing our bags, the 40 of us walked through the neighborhoods—led by local Young Life staff—and delivered the food to families who live there.
|Assembling the care packages|
|Making Christmas cards to include|
|And taking to the streets!|
It was an eye-opening experience, not just for me, but for our students. I was incredibly proud to see some of them really “getting it.” Students opened up about how the experience made them feel thankful for everything they have, how they think we should be doing more, and how different their homes are from the ones we saw. Some of them are eager to put together a slideshow of our experience and show the entire middle school at our next assembly. Some of them are hoping we can have one of these weekends every month, at least.
It’s wonderful what a true real-life experience can do to open up the eyes of students who have so much and have never known another life…can’t even imagine another life.
And for their teacher, too.
I’ve always been thankful for what I have. I know I’m blessed in myriad ways, and I appreciate all the opportunities that have brought me here and all that I have. But today, I feel like I have excess. I feel a bit ashamed that after 4 months here, this is the first community service I’ve done. We spent time today telling our kids that they should feel thankful—not guilty—for all that they have.
But I have to admit. As an adult, I’m feeling a little guilty. Not too much. Just the right amount, I think.