Sitting in the airport, itching for departure, all I could think about was the people we'd be meeting, the smiles we'd share, and the life long memories we'd create. The hope this community holds is inspiring and I couldn’t wait to roll up my sleeves and get to work! Along the trip I kept a journal of a couple key things that stuck out to me at the end of each day. Here’s a few of my favorites:
Day two: Today was our first day up and about in Joplin. We visited the tornado path. Seeing all the destruction was devastating. There were so many emotions going through me at one time, that I didn't really know how to react. After literally being torn out of their homes and having their community ripped to pieces, Joplin remained strong. Even after a year, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done, so its just amazing to me to see all these people always so incredibly joyful and nice. It's apparent that material things don't mean a thing to these people; it's all about having each other. Hope is something that is never lacking in this community; it's the glue that holds them together. Hope high is the perfect example of how new beginnings aren't too far off. With that realization, a spark lit up inside of me, I was inspired, touched, and motivated. Nothing was stopping me from giving this my ALL.
Last day: :( Today was our last work day, its bitter sweet. I mean it’d be nice to have a shower or maybe some more room, but at the end of the day all I want to do is stay here with my 25 new brothers and sisters. I had the most amazing time, well amazing isn't even the right word because it was greater than that. I just wanna give a shout out to all the trip leaders for being spectacular. I also want to thank the fabulous chaperones for being on their game! What an experience this was. :) I really can't begin to fathom that this trip is already coming to an end. Coming into this we were all strangers, but now were a family.
Experiencing such a trip has really put things into perspective for me; I appreciate more than I ever did before. It's chilling to think about how much faith and hope lies in this community. It gives me goose bumps. Being here and actually getting some eye action with all the damage that was done motivates you even more to work so much harder. I just want to help restore this community and give them even more of a reason to smile. After all a life without hope is a life thats hard to live and that’s why I think Joplin has so much of it. They continue to prove to me that no matter how bad things get they always get better, especially when you smile along the way.
I have learned so much on this trip, and if I could go back this very moment, I SOOOOO would! Always take every day with a smile and live in the moment, because you never know what tomorrow holds. Be passionate in everything you do, and always let your heart shine. I'm inspired to be a better person because all of you.
Lizzie :) <3