Pure Joy & Human Connection - Chris Sorensen
If I were to tell you I was planning to take your teenage son/daughter to a third world country, put them in a cramped room with 2 - 3 other people, only a bucket to bathe with, no air conditioning, a toilet that can barely handle toilet paper, no internet, no TV, no Social Media, and continual power outages, How do you think that would go?
What if I then told you I will expect them to work 8 – 10 hours a day. Their workday will require they prepare for 30 – 60 minutes the night before, get up early, pack a lunch, and spend an hour in a dusty hot bus on a windy mountain road before hiking another 15 – 20 minutes carrying all of their supplies to their final destination. At their destination they will spend the next 7- 8 hours sitting in the dirt trying to teach children how to speak English. They will be required to think on their feet, apply discipline where necessary, and develop a rapport with the children in order to create an environment conducive to learning.
At the end of their eight (8) hour day, they will gather up their supplies, make the 15 – 20 minute hike back to the pick-up point for the bus where they will ride the bus for the next hour back down the windy mountain road. Once back at the hotel, before doing anything else, they must review their lesson plans for the next day, unpack and re-pack their supply bag, and make sure they have everything needed for the next day’s activities.
With preparations complete, they are given a meal that tastes surprisingly similar to the one they had the night before, and the night before that, and virtually every night since arriving in India. After dinner, they are free to enjoy a bucket shower, that may or may not be warm, depending on whether or not the power had been off that day. After the bucket shower, they fall into their beds, which are somewhere beneath the bags, school supplies, clothes, and who knows what else in their overcrowded rooms. And then, they get to do it all over again the next day.
Welcome to a day in the life of a YMAD teen. It is not an easy job! It is demanding and often requires the teens to push through when they feel they have little or nothing left to give. As they persist, the reward for their efforts is a deep and very real connection to the children they serve. They love the children and the children love them. When the day comes to say goodbye, they leave a piece of their heart in India and take a piece of the children’s hearts back home with them. As the teens drive away from the schools for the last time, they realize they had come to India to change the lives of the children but those children have changed the lives of the teens.
So why is there no complaining or bickering amongst the teens while living in relative discomfort and working in miserable conditions day after day? The answer is simple. They have lost themselves in the service of others and found the pure joy that comes from lifting the arms that hang down and strengthening those who need it most.
Marce and I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to work with your teens. They have been nothing short of amazing! We love them as our own and feel it is such a privilege to witness their self-discovery as they learn that joy and happiness are not found in things, but rather through service and human connection. Our hope is that these teens will now move forward in life with a continuous desire to serve and to make the world a better place. I have no doubt they will!!