Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Blessed Beyond Measure

Recently, our daughter Jenna traveled on a Foundation 4Life® trip to Indonesia to help open two centers for early childhood education. She was deeply affected by her experiences. Below are Jenna's thoughts and feelings, in her own words.

After arriving in West Java, Indonesia, we traveled along a steep dirt road that no bus or vehicle bigger than a moped should try to navigate. As we ascended, I was amazed to see small huts and homes built on the side of the road. I felt such awe for people who make their homes on the side of the road in the middle of the jungle.

The villagers greeted us with cheers, warm smiles, and excitement. Kids stood in the rain with no shoes or shirts on to welcome us. The people had prepared food for us—food that may have been all they had for the week.

They showed us the new building Foundation 4Life had helped build. It was a one-room area made of tightly-woven bamboo husks with bare walls, except for the little pieces of artwork made by the children. As a teacher, my old classroom had supplies, art, decorations, plants, and desks.

The villagers' playground consisted of one teeter totter, a few wooden boxes, and a big rock. At my old school, we had a beautiful playground with a soccer field, kickball field, swings, slides, jungle gym, and more.

I have my home sprayed every month for spiders the size of a dime. These people share their yard with spiders the size of my face. They work hours every day just to have food (and not very much of it) on their tables. Sometimes I'm too lazy to drive to the grocery store to buy food already prepared for me.

Coming back home was hard for me. Lying in my king-size bed with my heated blanket made me feel ashamed. My refrigerator is full. I have clean, hot and cold water, a car, clothes, and other material possessions that add up to more than most people see in a lifetime. I am blessed in ways that I can only truly understand when surrounded by those who are not nearly so lucky.

I miss the faces of the people I met on my adventures. To me, they are not just names or pictures, but real people. When I was with them, life felt simple, happy, and fulfilled. These humble, precious people have changed me and blessed my life more than they will ever know. This holiday season, I am most thankful for the chance I had to remember what it means to be grateful, kind, and humble.

Jenna poses with a few sweet women from the village in Indonesia.
A few kids play on their simple playground set.