Every summer since the eighth grade, I have gone on a mission trip with my church called Appalachia Service Project (ASP). ASP is a Christian ministry that organizes volunteer home repair in the Appalachian region. We build decks, fix floors or ceilings with water damage, repair roofs, etc. Even though the week mostly consists of trying the get the project done, a big part of it is connecting with the family that lives there. The poverty rates can exceed 1.5 times the US average, making it a hard place to live. However, most of the people are content with their lives and even offer the workers refreshments during the hot work days and to come sit inside with them to talk.
The first summer I went, I had the pleasure of meeting two young sisters living at our worksite. They seemed like many kids I know here at home; they were blonde, cute, excited to see us, talkative, funny and happy, but what we learned is that they had never done some of the things most people living in Williamson County consider to be pretty ordinary: swimming in a swimming pool, wearing tie-dye t-shirts, and even eating out at a restaurant. This didn’t seem to bother them, probably because they didn’t even know what they were missing, but I remember being shocked that they had never experienced these things. What an eye opener: it gave me great perspective, and left me feeling like I have more than I need, as most of us already do. This example, as well as every child I have met through ASP, has left me feeling very blessed. With this in mind, I am always thankful for my current situation, and remain ever cognizant of the struggles of those less fortunate.