Her Heart's In South America

Last night I got a telephone call from one of my granddaughters with a request. She wanted me to proofread an essay she had written for the college she has chosen to attend. After reading it, I wanted to save it for posterity's sake (yea, this is my scrapbook) and also share it with you. I hope it blesses you.

      My heart is in South America.  More specifically, Asuncion, Paraguay.  I am in love with the country and the language, but it is the people who have stolen my heart.  
It all began the summer after my ninth grade year when I took a trip which would unknowingly change my life forever.  I traveled on a mission trip to Asuncion and have returned to Paraguay two more times since then. 
Each of the trips has led me to new places and new friends.  I have tried new foods and have seen new things.  But, the point of our trips was ministry, and each time we have served others.  Our group’s main activity was an eyeglasses ministry.  
In the small villages of Paraguay, many of the people who are visually impaired do not have access to a doctor or cannot afford to purchase glasses themselves.  We visited these locations, our doctors tested their eyes, and we gave them free glasses according to their needs. 
Each year we have handed out hundreds of pairs of prescription eyeglasses and even more reading glasses.  I remember one man in particular who began to cry while telling us how thankful he was.  As a carpenter by trade, his work had become very difficult for him because of his increasingly bad eye sight.  He was so happy that he would be able to work again.  
 To experience the excitement and gratitude of these people when their vision is restored is truly amazing!  However, this is not the reason we travel over a thousand miles to reach them each year.  Our ultimate goal is to meet the spiritual needs of the Paraguayan people through first meeting their physical needs. 
While the people are waiting to be fitted for their new glasses, which can be quite a while, we are able to speak with them about why we have come, which is to share with them about the saving grace of Jesus Christ, and pray with them about what is happening in their lives.  Meanwhile, we also hold camps for the children of the village.  We play games, sing songs, make crafts, and tell Bible stories. 
The kids that I have worked with have really impacted me.  They have taught me how to be content, how to really trust, and how to love unconditionally.  I am very grateful to have been a part of their lives and for them to have been a part of mine. 
I am also grateful for some of the things these trips have helped confirm in my life.  I have always thought I would like to be a teacher, but I have never been certain.  I have been encouraged by family and friends to pursue a career with a higher pay scale and I have seriously considered it.  However, on my last trip, while working with those children, it became very clear to me that educating children is what I want to do for the rest of my life. 
I now feel very confident in my decision to seek a degree in early childhood education with a minor in Spanish.  Before my first trip I had taken only one year of required Spanish.  While in Paraguay, I fell in love with the language and am now in my fourth year of Spanish.  It is my desire to use my degree to make a difference in the lives of children all over the world.  

Katelyn, you have made our lives so much richer. Thank you for your servant's heart. I love you and am reminded of this post dedicated to you last December.