My Purpose for Living
Thoughts of sleeping on the cold, hard ground of a one-room African hut, scrubbing months of dirt and disease from a dirty child, and spending hours building, teaching, and singing in the grueling heat often cross my mind. Images of the extreme poverty of an unreached tribe tear at my heart. The voices of poor, hungry, naked children scream persistently into my ears.
Last summer, I spent a month living amongst the extreme poverty of San Isidro, Bolivia, the poorest country in South America. I served the abandoned, the unloved, the orphans, and the street kids. I saw the pain of loneliness and neglect that poured from little girls’ eyes. I listened to abused boys tell me about their dozen siblings and one-room shacks. I saw the effects of drugs, sex, abuse and alcohol on a 5-year old child. Many of these children suffer from an ever-growling stomach and physical pain from exposure to extreme cold without sufficient clothing. It broke my heart. While the trip has ended, my service has only begun as I see my future filled with the uncertainty of following God where He leads me, loving the impoverished and hurting, and living simply. Bolivia marked the beginning of a life defined by unlimited service.
Unlike the average American teenager, my heart races at the idea of serving alongside people living in poverty and emptiness. I find joy in every aspect of being a missionary: trying to communicate with the native speakers, singing songs in other languages, and building relationships with those cast from society. Many people ask me, “Why missions?” The truth is, nothing else truly satisfies my soul. Nothing makes me feel so alive, so free. Nothing makes me feel closer to my Creator. My life goals do not include earning an important title, acquiring riches, living comfortably, or climbing the ladder to success. Quite honestly, I want to do the opposite. I want to live with the least in our world, to become poor, to abandon everything but my God. My plans do not abide by the selfishness and greed learned from the American society or include a nice car, a house, unlimited freedoms, or a Utopian society. Maybe I will teach English in a South American slum, build homes in Africa, or run a non-profit organization in Omaha, Nebraska. The uncensored, hurting, broken world will become my home and also my battlefield.
My way of thinking affects not only my future, but also how I act, spend my time and live in the present as well. I find more worth in spending hours volunteering, than watching TV, going to parties, or shopping. I am everything but the result of falling into American cookie-cutter conformity, because my life revolves around serving others instead of myself. The truth is hard to accept: It is no longer about me. The future is undecided, my plans are unknown, His guidance is my desire, but somehow, my heart is at peace.