The Study Tour is an incredible opportunity to see poverty firsthand & the impact your Famine funds are having in the lives of people around the world. Lauren, from the 2010 Study Tour to Bolivia, shares about her experience; from the hardship of seeing how some people lived to the frustration of figuring out her place in the world after getting home. Read on to hear Lauren’s honest, two year journey since Bolivia.
Have you ever thought there was something more you could do, something more to make you feel good inside, to make you feel like a better person? Or maybe something you could do to make a difference in this big world? I have.
I’ll never forget May 17, 2010. I got a Skype call from Michele, the 30 Hour Famine study tour leader… “You are going to Bolivia!!” she said with excitement, cheers in the background. I have never felt so many feelings in a single second in my life. I was going to Bolivia, South America with eight other students around the country along side with the 30 Hour Famine team from World Vision. I had so much to do!
Throughout the next few months I kept wondering why me? Why was I selected out of the many applicants to see the difference all of us high school kids were able to make by raising money for children across the world? Thirty hours of sacrifice in which we went hungry and homeless to raising money for the starving children in Kenya, Bolivia, Afghanistan, everywhere. Doing this, I never knew it would contribute to changing my life. As the trip got closer, I was nervous, scared, anxious, and most definitely excited.
When we got to Bolivia, I was in total disbelief. We saw families living in homes the size of a small bathroom, outside and dirty with the pigs they raised. The children had chapped cheeks from the harsh winds . The places some families lived were so broken down and dirty, sometimes I wanted to cry. It was so hard for me to see the things I did; I would try to sleep at night but could only see that little boy in the pigpen.
Although it was hard, the reason they showed us this was because we had to learn. We had to see for ourselves the harshness of hunger and homelessness. But amongst all the pain we saw, there was also hope and light. Hope in the villages because the money we raised gave the people tools to build stables for their animals, seeds to grow their crops, and food to feed their families. And light because the people I met were the strongest people I had ever met. They never complained of the hardships they faced, only talked about the good things they were blessed with. Their love for Jesus Christ was unlike any I had seen before, it was pure and it was genuine. Their capacity to love was endless. I knew meeting these people, seeing their faith, watching the differences being made, that I had to do whatever I could in my power to make a difference, maybe not in their lives but their children and their great grand children’s lives. Jesus Christ gave me this opportunity to look through those children’s eyes, those hardworking mothers and fathers, and see my purpose.
Coming home I had all these ideas and plans. I was going to round up my church and tell them of the great news I had discovered on my trip. I wanted to find ways to raise more money for World Vision and I wanted to start a “help the world club” at my school. A few months went by and I had done nothing. A few more months went by and I had still done nothing. It is now 2012 and what do I have to show for the last two years of being back from Bolivia?… A few volunteer jobs and a pat on the back for being a good person? That is nothing like I had envisioned in my head on the plane ride home. The question I am left with now is what? Can I still make that difference I wanted to make?
Yes. The answer is yes. I know what I have to do. I am going to college now and without a doubt I have never been so distracted from my faith and my purpose to help people. With so many types of people, so many new things, and being far away from home; I am surprised I even know between left and right. Lucky for me, I am reminded everyday. Every time I see a homeless person, every time I hear the word “change”, and every time I see another person give a helping hand it hits me. This is what I am doing here, this is why I am going to college, so I can give those children I saw hope and a shining light. I will never fall off the tracks to the destination of my God-given purpose, I may slow down or lose a wheel but I will never fall off.
Lauren went on the 2010 Study Tour to Bolivia. She is currently a finishing up her first year at Humboldt University in California and is planning to join the Peace Corps once she graduates.