by Erin Warden

I had the wonderful opportunity to spend a month at Liberian Mission and I learned more than I would have ever imagined. I was visiting during the summer work program, which is something new they are trying out this year. The kids were working on various projects to help improve the school and mission.  I helped with a number of these projects: painting, working in the fields, cooking, and a variety of other things. I witnessed the kids’ non-stop positive attitudes while they worked hard and saw the pride they took in what they were accomplishing. They worked hard all day and played soccer and learned new games in the evenings. The kids were a constant joy to be around, and their unending appreciation was shocking. I never expected the amount of gratitude they showed us.  It opened my eyes to how little of that we in the United States show. Everywhere I turned, I felt like someone was telling me “Thank you” – even if I was taking a break. The boys were quick to take our paintbrushes as soon as they thought we looked even a little bit tired and told us to sit and take a break. All of the kids seemed to really enjoy being around each other and staying on the mission.  I had a blast just watching them interact in their games, stories, and frequent dance parties.

In terms of the amount I learned and the people I met, this experience was more than I ever would have expected.  It was amazing to see how genuinely happy everyone was, in spite of how little they have. The smallest things can make an enormous difference and bring a huge smile to their faces. They all have an incredible faith, and it was incredible to witness that in numerous settings:  at church services, how the kids sang worship songs while they painted, and in the ways they care about and treat others. I learned to appreciate what I have much more than I ever had, and I learned that it is the little things in life that matter. I learned how big of an impact little things like a ‘thank you’ or a simple conversation can have on someone.

This was probably the most amazing experience in my life, and I enjoyed every minute of it. It’s amazing what the mission has done for these kids, and the work they continue to do. The adults working on the mission care about these kids more than anything.  Seeing the way they interact with and work for them opened my eyes to so much. After seeing the place where some of the kids came from, it’s unbelievable that they are all doing so well and thriving in both their education and spiritual life. They’re learning what’s important in life, and how to use their knowledge to make a difference where it counts.

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