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Senior shares McAllen spring break experience

The writer was assigned to write a first-person story in a reporting class over something they did this semester. The stories are written in first-person and in their own words.

By Ryan Wiederstein

During spring break, I took part in the McAllen mission trip sponsored by Edmond Church of Christ. McAllen, TX, is five miles from the United States border with Mexico.  We left Edmond Saturday and reach our destination Sunday.

I could start this story at the very beginning but it would include a long and boring van ride with a cranky van driver. I will omit this part and move to the first day we spent working in McAllen.

The first day of our trip we spent working on a house for a lady name Mariah. We spent the first couple of hours working on the house’s siding. After we finished the siding, we started painting the house.

While painting the house, I remember looking into one of the windows and seeing a swarm of at least 20 flies on the inside of the house. This really got my attention and is something I will never forget seeing. It made me realize how blessed I am to live where I live.

The next house we worked on wasn’t actually a house. It was a trailer, which had removed the wheels. We spent the remainder of our time working on this home. The trailer had holes throughout the structure where the wood had rotted. We did our best to patch the holes in the trailer for the family that lived there.

Although the task of patching the holes was completed, I’m not sure we helped the overall structure of the home. I say this because if I were to push on the walls, the rotting wood would start to break. Anybody who works on homes for a living would tell you these homes needed new frames. It really made me sit back and think how lucky I was  to have a place to live where I don’t have to worry about the walls of our home caving in.

This Texas family didn’t seem to care that their house wasn’t structurally sound. They were overjoyed at the fact someone was willing to offer a hand and help them. The family was so grateful. It was apparent how thankful they were for our help. The mother came out multiple times throughout the day and asked us if we needed anything to drink or if we wanted some of her fresh tamales. When we took water breaks, the children would come out and play soccer with us.

This family’s kindness and joy of life has been something I have thought about ever since I left the town of McAllen. I have a job paying my bills and I’m currently attending college (which my parents are paying for). I have been given every opportunity in life that could possibly be given. But with all I have, I still don’t have the generosity this family showed me.

My grandmother was so proud of me for spending my spring break on a mission trip. I remember her telling me, “Ryan I’m so happy you are going to be helping people that really need it.”

At the time, I didn’t question my grandmother’s kind words. I mean, did we help the family? Yes, of course we did. But in a way they helped me and everyone working on their house a great deal more than we helped them. They showed us it’s not what you have in life but the way you treat people in your life that makes your life fulfilled.

I’m so glad I choose to spend my spring break the way I did. I may not have any crazy stories most American college students have, but in my opinion I have something more valuable. A joy of life I didn’t have before McAllen.

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