Experiences in life shape and set the way we live life. My experiences have guided me into finding my identity. I discovered my true identity on my my first mission trip to Peru. It was a discovery that I never could have imagined. My one sided view of the way life should be lived took a complete one eighty degree turn. My next few missions trips opened my eyes to a new reality, leading my life to use my identity to help others in their own growth.
It was in 2008 when I went on my first mission trip to Peru. I was thirteen and very immature; however, I thought the complete opposite. I went on this trip with the expectations that I would not have a good time. I didn’t like the idea that I was leaving California for two weeks during the end of my summer to go somewhere that I had no choice in going. Every single thought and expectation that I had were proven to be all wrong. While I was in Peru, I was greeted daily by some of the most loving and caring people I had ever met. These people showed me how selfless a person could be. Living a life without the necessities that I thought we were so critical like a cell phone, makeup, and the latest fashion was not the slightest of concern to them. The people I met in Peru were mainly of the poor class. These poor people in Peru had very little money, but they had hearts filled of gold. Although being able to feed their family for the week is a constant struggle, they remain to appreciate life to the fullest while loving and embracing everything around them. Witnessing all of these occurrences, my mind was expanded and I felt rediscovered to a type of living life I had never felt.
On the same mission trip I participated in a various amount of clinics and organizations with the church, Camino de Vida, centered in the city of Lima. My church group and myself worked in a few medical clinics, where we worked with doctors, dentists, and nurses. We helped with giving antibiotics to the sick, cleaning and pulling teeth, and general doctor checkups. I helped work with the dentist, and was given the job of cleaning teeth. I absolutely loved it. Being a perfectionist came in my favor when I was given this job. A few hours later of doing the same job, it hit me. I knew what I wanted to do in my life. I was destined to become a professional teeth cleaner. No not really, but I actually knew that I was to do something in helping people who weren't given the same resources that I have been given. Later on in the week my team and I worked with an organization that is based out of Irvine, California. This organization is Free Wheel Chair Mission, one of the most amazing organizations that I am very passionate about to this day. This organization works with providing people that are mentally or physically handicapped a prepaid wheelchair made and supplied for only $71.88. Seeing family members who were either kids, moms, dads, or elders receive wheelchairs was ultimately life changing. I had never seen a person so grateful for such a simple piece of equipment. I never realized how immobility really weighs a persons life down, and being able to get this gift back was better then all the Christmas's they could ever have. Right in front of my eyes, I saw lives transform solely because they could now have a way of getting to work or being able to help around their house. I found so much of my own personal identity in these days. I found that I did not want to live a life only for me, but to live a life giving back to others.
It did not end there! Only a year later and I was back on my way to Peru for the second time. This time was different though. I came in with a whole different mindset. I was ready to devote all my being in to helping and really being present in my heart and soul for tasks that were about to be accomplished. Not long after we landed we were already in route to go give wheelchairs to many of the Peruvian people. Some people were incapable to come to the location where the wheelchairs were being distributed, so we would drive to their house instead. While I was there, I was able to get a personal experience and relationship with the person. I was able to hear their story, and the struggles they had to endure for so many years due to their disability. Many people lost their spouses, kids, and house all because of the stress it caused their family. Once again I partook in the numerous amounts of medical clinics and different health clinics. Every time we held one, I was astonished to see just at how many people would come and wait to enter the clinics. They would wait for hours to get antibiotics or see the many doctors and dentists on hand. Being able to go on this trip again was a pure blessing. Although I was only one year older, I felt so much more in touch with God and the way he was working in my life. I was ready to allow my life to be transformed to all the opportunities I might have in the future relating to serving on missions trips.
These trips allowed me the ability to really find myself without any person pushing their ideas on me. I loved everything about Peru; I loved the people, the culture, and the passion they had for one another. These are many things I notice that we lack here in the United States. Anyhow, not only serving in Peru was the only thing I felt was my identity. I am very passionate about playing tennis, fitness, and my overall health. I had sacrificed a lot of my personal and social life for this sport. I decided to study at Fullerton College to play on the tennis team in order to get two extra years of intense training from my outside coach and trainer. This was my life and I was determined to do anything to make my future go in that direction. I have put my heart and soul into this plan for the past three and a half years, and I would have never thought my mentality would ever change. That was until my life was altered once again on another mission trip to Chile in the Summer of 2013.
Here I am, sitting in the airport in Georgia waiting for my connecting flight to Santiago. I was about to endure my first mission trip without any of my own family members with me, solely my church family. I was so eager and nervous for what was about to come my way. I was familiar with Peru, but not Chile. I only knew that they had the Andes Mountains, that is it. This whole trip was so unfamiliar to the other trips I had gone on. A different church and different people. I had my anxieties, but I knew that everything was going to be okay as long as I put my trust in the Lord. Upon our arrival, we all were given Chilean host families that we were living with for the next two weeks. My Chilean family have become some of the nicest and most influential people I have ever met. I learned so much about loving and caring for one another from them. Our journey had just begun and there was still so much that was going to be experienced. The next day we promptly started on the work we would be pouring our life into for our remaining time.
In those two weeks, I helped out at four different location sites. Working at churches, doing construction, helping out with fitness camps, and playing with kids consumed my fifteen hours out of the twenty four we had everyday. Throughout the strenuous amount of hours working diligently, I was able to make and meet so many friends. I met quite a few people that were doing internships down in Chile for months at a time. They would come down during their summer or during their winter breaks to live and do missionary work. This was the ultimate realization. These opportunities were also so much available to me, it just took me so long to recognize it. This mission trip brought me so much closer to my faith, and to what I love to do. I found my passion and my identity was in helping others grow in their walk with God. I took in account that my identity was going to take me on the biggest journey of my life, it was going to be my life. Although I fell in love with Chile and the people, I knew where I am meant to be. I know that is in Peru, and I have had many signs and doors open for me; life constantly is pushing me in that direction. Knowing your identity and being passionate about it comes with some sort of price. This price for me is the sacrifice I will make.
My sacrifice comes in knowing that I will leave my family, friends, and the life I am living here eventually for my true identity. I also would be sacrificing my tennis for this new life of mine. My hope is to bring and incorporate some of my love for health, tennis, and overall fitness to the peruvians. Throughout life people experience certain scenerios where they feel this is what they are called to do, but then later that week their mind changes. In my case I know that my identity is where my heart is. This identity lies in my desire to help others, and to help people see the beauty of living a more fulfilled life.