Last summer in Ferguson, Missouri I learned to always help people in need, don’t judge others, and to always have hope. I met so many nice people, heard so many great stories and lessons, and saw amazing things that life has to offer. The whole trip was a life changing experience and made me look at life a different way.
Ferguson is a city just outside of St. Louis and my youth group went there for a mission trip. Our youth group chose Ferguson because there was so much we could do to help out there. Our first day there we went to a shelter called PAKT which helps people in hard times and helps with after school programs. I was really happy that I got to help out people in need. When we first got there, it was a kind of messy, but by the time we left, it was super clean. Some of the jobs we had were organizing the storage room, pulling weeds, and helping put things together for their after school program. Then two days later we went to a farm that was in the middle of Ferguson. It was really hot but it was good to help them plant all kinds of produce and pull weeds. At the farm they have fresh produce to take to a farmer’s market, and they provide jobs for kids who are helping support their families.
Also while we were there we went to go see the memorial where Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer. It was pretty sad to see it because when he was shot, it caused all sorts of riots. Buildings were burned down, car windows were smashed, and so many more things. A pretty cool thing that happened after the riots calmed down was that people decided to take things into their own hands. Most of the windows on the buildings had boards over them. Since a lot of people wanted to spread peace, they decided to paint colorful paintings on the boarded windows saying things like, “Stay Strong Ferguson” and “One Love.” It was amazing to see these kinds of things because it proves that people can come together and make something really cool. The paintings helped me not judge other people so much because those people came together and made peace with one another.
One of the last days we were there we went to a diverse Methodist church. It was a whole new experience for all of us, but one person stood out to me. I don’t remember her name, but during the service she would run around the church and would say things like, “Amen!” and “Praise Jesus!” I was a little confused at first but then I got used to it. After the service, our group found her and started asking her why she was doing that. I will never forget what she told us.
“Well I have every reason to. I was hit by two cars. I could just feel the tires going over my head. I was sent to the emergency room at the hospital and I had already lost so much blood. I had hope through everything that had happened and God saved me and that’s my way of praising Him.”
After that trip, I started living a lot differently. I learned so many things on that trip, but these three things stick out the most. When people ask for help, I do whatever they need me to do. I also try not to judge others as much as I used to. Finally, I always have hope no matter what is happening.