Monday, July 15, 2013

Belize Reflection: One Drop

(See post from 7/1 for background)

At one point on my mission trip to Belize, my school group and I traveled to Sacred Heart high school to meet with the Principal. She spoke to us about the economic difficulties families face in sending their children to high school. A high school education, similar to a college education in our society, is just about necessary to support a family. Without it, people are tempted to turn to prostitution and the drug trade to make it through. High schools try to accommodate families' economic situations, but they are already struggling to find funds and can only make tuition so low. Though they hate to do so, local high schools find themselves turning away students once their capacity is met. Even more students don't even have hope of this education if their families can find no way to afford it. Thousands of children in Belize find themselves thrust into the real world around the age of 12, expected to work to support their family though they lack many of the skills necessary to do so.

When I had first arrived in Belize, I subconsciously brushed aside the poverty I was seeing, trying to make it "okay" in my mind by noting that these people were genuinely happy with their lives. And they are...but that doesn't mean they refuse to wish for better circumstances.

Meeting with this Principal, hearing about the reality and struggles the youth in Belize face, made me feel insignificant. It made me feel helpless. What could I do? There are so many struggles, so many obstacles. These kids don't even have a fair shot at life; how can I eradicate poverty and save them all? What is the value of this trip if, when I leave, the same problems remain?

These questions haunted me all day; they were all I could think about. I couldn't help but picture an 8th grade girl I had grown particularly close to and ponder all the obstacles she would face on her path to a good life.

Why wasn't she--and all in a similar situation--given a fair chance in life? What could I do to help?

God answered these questions that night through the advice of an adult chaperon, who, when I voiced my feelings of helplessness, told me of a Mother Teresa quote:

"We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop."

This quotation changed the way I viewed my time in Belize, and the way I now view service as a whole.

What we are doing may just be a tiny drop in the ocean, but at least it's a step in the right direction.

I can't eradicate poverty. I can't give that 8th grader a perfect life. But I can equip her--and all in need--with the tools necessary to fight the good fight. I can give these tools financially, or I can give even more; I can give my time, my prayers, my words of wisdom, to help those in need succeed. It may not change their lives entirely. Perhaps it won't even produce any visible changes. But all that matters is that I am trying. I am helping to the best of my ability, in both big ways and small.

We can't solve all the world's problems, at least not single-handedly. But we can contribute our strength to the battle many of us face each day. We may think our contributions, our prayers, our advice, won't help. We may think, what's the point? What is one drop in a giant ocean? But to God, and to those in need, one drop is everything.

If everyone adopted that mindset and gave up because "one drop" was insignificant in a giant ocean, then the ocean would not exist. What is the ocean, after all, but a pool of millions and billions of tiny drops?

Our efforts, when evaluated alone, may seem insignificant. But when we combine our drops, when we combine our efforts, we can move mountains. We can fill oceans. We CAN change the world.

Striking a pose

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