One of the greatest parts of going back to Ghana during the winter break on a Mission trip was seeing how excited the people were to interact with new ideas. The mission group was greeted with an assembly at the Akumfi Ameyaw Senior High School in Aworowa one afternoon, and I was given the opportunity to speak to the students (with their Staff and Head of the School present) about my experience with continued education in the United States. I took the time to relay a basic lesson about individual strength that helps me remain motivated when my problems seem to be growing uncontrollably.
The lesson comes up in many disciplines, but the main point is that success and growth can be achieved by approaching problems instead of avoiding them. I told them about how they could start trying to tackle the small problems that they saw and begin making their lives better in small ways. Even though the students in that assembly had never met me and didn’t know who I was, they seemed eager to engage with what I had to say.
Their openness to new ideas and experiences showed me that those students took their potentials seriously. I have been in several similar assemblies at my schools in the United States where none of the students even cared to listen to what the presenter had to say, so I was incredibly impressed by how serious the high schoolers in Ghana were about their development. I am not certain if I told them anything that was immediately useful, but the students always paid careful attention and I noticed that they were hungry for information that they could use to improve their lives in any way.
Besides the high school students on that day, we interacted with the youth in the area on a regular basis. We hosted a vacation bible school on two different days where hundreds of children from the surrounding villages gathered to play games and win candy. I led a group of the older children through some games with the jump-ropes and balloons we brought and captured some pictures while they played.
For some reason, balloons were particularly popular; so much so that the entire group I was supposed to be leading got distracted when a balloon floated into our area from another group. On top of that, the mission team spent the second morning preparing over 800 meal-bags of rice, eggs and fish to distribute to the kids that day. It may not sound like much when discussed in the context of the average American life, but even a small meal of rice was met with overwhelming appreciation and gratitude by those children.
Spending six weeks in Ghana, the last 2 1/2 weeks being the period for mission activities, reminded me how much I tend to take for granted in the states. A simple piece of wisdom or small meal was often overlooked as a given, at least in my experience, but it is not easy to maintain that perspective when you interact with people for whom such niceties are the highlight of their day. I think the trip helped me to grow in my ability to empathize with other people. Since coming back to the United States, I have tried my best to help others in any way I can because I learned that even a small gesture on my part can make the life of someone else better than it would be without me.
story by Mike Ayensu-Mensah, UW, Wisconsin Conference
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