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February 24, 2011 / Meg

Unglamorous.

The life of a seminary student is not very glamorous.

When I’m not eating, sleeping, or teaching group exercise classes, I’m reading, writing, or studying.  These activities may or may not be paired with eating lots of candy and downing excessive amounts of gatorade.  Hey, we all have our vices, right?!?

Needless to say, I’m very excited that spring break is right around the corner.  While most of my friends will be spending their spring breaks catching up on school work, I (and a handful of fellow Duke Divinity students) will be traveling to Haiti next Saturday. I’m excited and nervous to go on the trip.

I’m excited because I know it’s going to be an awesome opportunity.  We are going to be volunteering in orphanages and schools.  We may even be getting our hands dirty with construction work when we’re down there.  We’ll be meeting our prayer partners and celebrating Ash Wednesday alongside our brothers and sisters in Haiti.  In fact, you can even keep up with us while we’re gone by reading our blog.  We’ll hopefully update every day.

On the other hand, I’m nervous about the mission trip.  I know that I’m going to learn so much and have my eyes opened to things I’ve never seen before.  I know it’s going to be transformational, and whether we like to admit it or not, change can be a scary thing.  It’s not easy stepping out of our comfort zone and embracing the reality of life in third world countries.

I say this from experience.  A year and a half ago I went on a mission trip to Nicaragua with my campus ministry.  It was life-changing.  It was my first time traveling to a third-world country, and although I had never been exposed to such poverty before, I had also never met people with such unwavering faith.

We worked with families who were literally living on garbage.

And worked with former banana workers who have been left crippled and physically ill due to an illegal pesticide that was used on banana plantations in Nicaragua.  My heart just breaks for these lovely people.

You don’t meet such wonderful people, share experiences with them, and leave unchanged.  It’s just not possible.

Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the western hemisphere.  Haiti was the poorest country long before the earthquake, so I cannot even begin to imagine the sights I’ll see, sounds I’ll hear, and people I’ll encounter.  I don’t want to have any preconceived notions, so I’m going in with an open heart and an open mind.

If my mission trip to Nicaragua was any indication, I am certain that Haiti will also be a transformational experience for me.  When I came back from Nicaragua, the first thing I saw in America was an automatic toilet in the Atlanta airport.  I almost puked.  I couldn’t believe that I had worked with people who had almost nothing, yet we don’t even flush our own toilets.  Granted, I was experiencing some culture shock, and that’s just one of the realities of mission trips like these: they shock you to your core.

Volunteering anywhere–but particularly abroad–allows you to see just how glamorous our lives are.  You see how everyday realities such as a bed and running water can become luxuries.  We live in a society where the talk of town is what designer each celebrity is wearing on the red carpet, yet we forget about the unglamorous lives our brothers and sisters lead across the globe.  It’s a strange paradox that truly changes you.

As I sit here and think about how I started this post, by saying that my life as a seminary student is unglamorous, I realize I couldn’t be more wrong.

We are all so incredibly blessed–even on our unglamorous days.   I have a feeling Haiti won’t let me forget the countless blessings we all have, especially the gifts of faith, hope, friendship, and love.  At the end of the day, I think a life filled with those gifts is truly the most glamorous of all.

Has your perspective changed due to a volunteer experience?  Share your story in a comment!

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11 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. laavventura / Feb 24 2011 2:40 pm

    This is a beautiful post. I wish you all the best in Haiti. Open hearts open minds. Have fun, Im looking forward to hearing about your experiences.

  2. Tien / Feb 24 2011 4:03 pm

    I can imagine how eye-opening your missionary trip to Nicaragua must be. I heard a lot of volunteering stories and they never fail to move me. You have pretty much sum it up in this inspiring post. I wish to be as courageous and take the big step towards volunteering someday and experience it for myself. All the best in Haiti, Meg!

    • Meg / Feb 24 2011 9:20 pm

      Thanks!!! 🙂

  3. emilyrae / Feb 24 2011 7:15 pm

    this is really inspiring. our “unglamorous” is definitely what most of the world would die for. kudos to you for letting God do his work through you!

    • Meg / Feb 24 2011 9:21 pm

      Awww thank you! 🙂

  4. serendipitygirl71 / Feb 24 2011 8:30 pm

    You are a true blessing! And I am sure you will have an amazing time in Haiti, and I am very sure you will make a lasting impression on the hearts of the people you meet there as much as they will on yours.
    I volunteered for the Teen Suicide Hotline when I was in High School and it was amazing to know the advice I gave or even sometimes just the time and a listening ear and heart I offered these people made such a difference. I will never forget my time there….

    God Bless You ~!

    • Meg / Feb 24 2011 9:22 pm

      Thank you so much. I can’t imagine volunteering for a teen suicide hotline. You must have such a kind heart!!!

  5. laavventura / Feb 25 2011 12:07 pm
    • Meg / Feb 25 2011 12:45 pm

      Thank you so much!

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