I went on a service trip with my church to help reconstruct houses in Biloxi, Mississippi with Back Bay Mission. We painted the inside of a house they were "flipping" to make it more affordable for the homeless population. We painted the exterior of a house that had survived Katrina. We started siding a house, worked at a soup kitchen, worked at a food pantry, and worked at the Micah Day Center. It was an amazing trip filled with lots of meaningful opportunities and bonding experiences with the people that went on the trip with me. I was asked to speak at my church about where I saw God on the trip. Here is what I said-
My name is Sarah Ackels and I am going to be a sophomore at Simsbury High School. Going into this trip I knew that I was going to see God in many different ways. I saw God in many people we helped throughout the week, but two people stood out to me.
Regi is a guest at the Micah Day Center. The Micah Day Center provides a home address, phone number, showers, and washing machines to those in need because in Biloxi there is a rule against overnight shelters. Regi told me and three other people from our group how he had come to be at the day center, homeless. He explained the affect of drugs and alcohol on his life and how he made some bad decisions to get himself where he was. The part that stood out to me was when he told us that he realized he was wrong and that he was trying to turn his life around. Regi told us, in tears that he had tried to commit suicide and that Jesus helped him through it. He also told us that he learned to read with the bible and that he has applied to jobs in order to attempt and make his life better. He told us his childhood dream was to be a preacher. Regis story was an amazing example of how God is with you every step of the way. Even though so much had gone wrong in his life, he always knew that God was right there with him and that was what kept his attitude positive.
The other person who stood out to me was Julie, whose house we were painting the exterior of. Julie told a group of us her story and how she lived through Katrina in that very house. It was touching to hear her story but at the end she was moved to tears thanking us. She didn't cry when she was talking about throwing away her belongings or being scared in the face of the storm, she cried out of happiness that, in her words, "y'all haven't forgotten us down here because it really isn't better yet" I saw God in the way she thanked us and the way that she could share her life experiences with us.
God shines through even in the hardest of times which helps you to know that he is there in the best times too. Thank you.
Overall it was an amazing trip. I made memories and friendships that will last a lifetime.
~be the change