It was an 8-hour trip down to North Carolina. Every day, I woke up early to clean toilets, trashcans, bedrooms, and gum off the bottom of the beds. It was disgusting. It was exhausting. I can’t wait to do it again. Acting as a housekeeper for a week, this service trip humbled me and made me appreciate what I normally take for granted: the comfort provided to me by the service of countless individuals every day.
This new appreciation struck me after one of the shop vacs broke. Another person in housekeeping was on the third bunk vacuuming up all the ladybugs that were hidden under a mattress. However, unaware that ladybugs were getting stuck in the hose, when she was coming down the ladder, she pointed the hose down and a deluge of ladybugs fell out onto me. I had to spend the next couple minutes picking the carcasses of ladybugs out of my hair.
I started to think twice about how I treat an area. Outside of homes, it is someone’s job to clean every table, restroom, and hallway—tiring, thankless work. Thus, when I returned home, I started to take more of an active role in keeping a place clean.
Accordingly, most people who go on such trips define them as ‘life changing’ experiences. They see and learn about the struggles in the world and their compassion grows; they gain a new perspective on the needs of the world and how they can individually help. Regardless, a study by The Barna Group shows that only a meager 9% of Americans have gone on a service trip.
For Christians, this issue is particularly pertinent. Jesus tells us to love one another, that we “ought to walk in the same way in which He walked.” He humbled himself as a servant to the people—healing them, washing the feet of his own disciples, serving them food. If we are to walk like Him, we must serve as He did. Unfortunately, the same study points out that only 11% of people who go to church attend service trips.
My service trip focused on cleaning up and preparing for a Christian kid’s camp, but these trips can vary from fixing up a Christian camp to building a house or concrete walkway to data entry. From menial to manual labor, there is something for everybody regardless of their religious orientation or experience.
Thankfully, getting involved in one is rather easy. There are specific volunteer abroad programs that you can look at here or you can talk to your local religious group or church. Also, the Catholic Volunteer Network offers many different types of volunteer trips.
Our generation wants to make a change. We want to make a difference. We have been shown to be a very compassionate generation eager to change the world. In a politically charged culture, many turn to large campaigns and publications to advocate for country-wide issues. However, the best way to really enact a change in a community may be something as simple and easy has scraping gum off the bottom of a bed.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.