Liberia Trip Recap - Rocky Alderman
This year, I gave myself several small areas I wanted to focus on that could help me grow in various parts of my life. In one of these, I challenged myself to show genuine love to every single person I meet, not just friends or people that can help me, as if they were created in the image of God (because we all are! [Genesis 1:27] Cool, right?). The Bible is full of verses saying things about loving your neighbors or loving people the way God loves us, so it seemed like a good goal. When I was first applying for this trip, I thought it would be a great opportunity to practice this in a new environment with cultural differences while doing the things I love: teaching and coaching. I knew this trip could help me long term as a teacher, a coach, and a man of God, but I never considered the immediate ways it could shift my perspective.
After getting there and spending a few days on the village I realized just how much more I could love the people around me. The kids wanted to know everything about us and our families. Every day I was getting asked by someone new about my favorite colors, sports, foods, or bible verses. They then would ask about family members and want to know everything they enjoyed doing, and if your answers changed from day to day, they remembered. Even though the questions at times seemed small and unimportant, I began to realize if they ask me my best friend’s favorite color, I may not know it. Loving people involves getting to know them, asking how their day is going, and not just giving a friendly “Hello.”
The second part of loving the people around you that the people I met on this trip helped me better understand love is an action. The first example I think of is the hospitality the children showed in the dining hall. Before meals, Paul would often ask me to sit at their table. On the days I would say yes, he’d offer to take my backpack and save me a seat. I at first thought this was to ensure I would sit by him, but after the third time or so, I realized that he was at the other end of the table. He had been putting me by different places to meet everyone from his cottage. At each meal, no matter at which table I sat, the kids and mamas were always there for me. They would make sure to inform me how to eat unfamiliar foods with advice about pouring your soup over rice or swallowing the fufu without chewing it. The kids were putting others like myself or friends from their cottage before themselves and that’s what genuine love looks like.
By the end of the trip the kids were constantly asking me about why I was being shy or quiet, and I kept reminding them that how actions speak louder than words and asking them that I could still be their friend even if I didn’t talk a lot. In reality, the whole experience helped me better understand love as an action, and that it may even speak the loudest of all, and I was also reminding myself of the same things. Love is a lot more than just smiling to a stranger and saying, “Good morning” or texting an old friend just to say “Hi.” Love is truly caring about those around you and often putting them before yourself. This new perspective has been my biggest immediate takeaway from the trip that I hope to apply in my own life as I try to finish this year of loving people.
1/17/2020 08:16:08 am
hi rocky, i love you and you inspire me so much and you suck at teaching math but i still love you
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