It has been ten years since I got on a plane with two of my best friends and flew really far away to achieve one of my life long goals: volunteering in Africa. Spending that summer of 2010 in Ghana changed me in ways I didn’t even realize I needed to or could change.
Often I felt like we were on a “save the children” commercial. It was devastating and completely heartbreaking to realize we knew so very little about the world. We are so privileged. We lived in an orphanage and taught school while there and those kids became our own. Had we had room, we would have flown every single one of them back with us. I hated that I couldn’t do more. It drove me insane that I had nearly nothing to give them, but knowing it was a good thing we were there… At least that is what we told tell ourselves. Just giving those children love and attention and human contact meant so much to them, and it changed the person I am. Their smiles were contagious and their eagerness to learn was refreshing. They didn’t see their lives as miserable or hard. They saw the opportunity and life in everything. It was truly beautiful. I wish I could have given them the world, instead, they changed mine. They also never sweat..which we were very jealous of. 😓☺️
Overall, I have never met happier people. They have less than some of the poorest of America, and you would never guess that by the happiness and gratitude that they showed every day for the smallest of gifts or favors.
Rereading letters home and blog posts have reminded me just how much the experience altered me as a person. It was an emotional roller coaster that never came down. I have literally never cried so much in such a span of time! In all reality, it made me a more grateful person. Grateful to know that we ALL have a Father in Heaven that is completely aware of all of us. My kids in Ghana and everywhere else in the world. He knows them and loves them so much. They know it too, which is the amazing part.
“This place is amazing, and terrifying. Heart wrenching, and heart warming to the point of tears, and tender. Sometimes it is so hard to be here. And yet, it still encompasses perfect.”
Writer: Kendra Haynie Walser 2010 (KLM)