Wow, I can't believe that the last ten days have gone by as fast as they have. All of the planning and information leading up to this trip couldn't have even prepared me for this experience. I came on this trip with eight strangers and now I am leaving with eight friends. I was probably the outcast on this trip being non-Catholic and never completing a service opportunity in my life, but I can honestly say that this trip has opened my eyes to so many things. It has showed me that stepping out of your comfort zone is the real way to live life; I've been to more Catholic masses in the past week and a half than I have in my entire life, I tried perogies, Chicago deep dish pizza, and I've have made some pretty successful desserts (I like to think, anyways.) But I think the most memorable moments from this trip came from learning how to open my eyes to things and take a second to breathe everything in. James and Ernest in Chicago were so thankful just to have us there to lend a hand to providing people with food who couldn't afford to themselves. Doing maintenance at the harm reduction center showed me that even doing what we consider to be little, minute things allow time for people to focus on the more important things that need to be done. Going through neighborhoods with broken windows and boarded up doors has showed me to appreciate my hometown and the life I have grown up and have been blessed enough to have. It didn't stop in Chicago though. Even here in Dayton, I witnessed the pure joy of the children of St. Benedict the Moor who finally had us to practice their multiplication tables with and to play with them in gym class. All of these moments taught me so much more about myself than I ever assumed to be possible on this trip. It is quite true that had I not stepped out of my comfort zone, I would have probably been spending the last week on my couch at home binge watching the Food Network or MTV. But also, if I had not come on this trip, I would not have met the eight wonderful people who have helped me recognize the importance of the little things and friendship and helping others with what we were blessed with in order to make even the slightest difference. So to you, the blog viewers, I wanna say thank you for your donations, your support, and your encouragement throughout this trip. And to Father Bill, Maggie, Allison, Gigi, Kayla, Chelsea, Beth, and Nick: thank you for helping me step out of what I have considered to be comfortable and thank you for making the past week and a half so memorable, pleasurable, and enjoyable. I wouldn't have wanted to experience this trip with anyone else. So, as we close out the week with mass tomorrow at St. Benedict the Moor before we head off back to our busy lives at Duquesne, I ask you all to take a moment and appreciate the little things. We are truthfully so blessed and it's amazing how much of a difference you can make in someone's life with something as small as raking leaves or playing kids scooters and parachutes. Thanks for following my experience as well as everyone else's. I know that this trip is one I will remember.
All the best,