Seeing life through others’ eyes

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 30, 1999

MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / August 30, 1999

LAPLACE – We as Americans often take our possessions for granted.

When a couple of weeks ago there were roving power outages, there were complaints about having to do without air conditioning for hours. Wecomplain when gas prices go up or when there is nothing on television.

What we often forget is there are people in the world who go without these luxuries every day. For them, the basic necessities of life areenough and too often those too are hard to come by without the help of others.

A group of local high school students learned that lesson lately on a mission trip to Saltillo, Mexico, to provide food and clothing for the needy.

The students, members of the Ascension of Our Lord CYO, along with other local high school students, went on the trip, sponsored by Our Lady of the Rosary in LaRose and pastor Dean Danos, with Ascension of Our Lord youth coordinator Janet Guillory. The students, who volunteered for the trip,drove straight through from Louisiana to Mexico, a journey that took 27 hours. Once there, the students were struck by the contrast between thenatural beauty of the area and the poorness of the communities.

“It was really beautiful,” Sumer Ledet said of the surrounding landscape.

“I was nervous at first, but I was awed because it was so awesome. Itwas very beautiful.”The students knew the local communities were in need but did not realize the severity of the situation.

“It was worse than I expected,” Brandi Brignac said. “I didn’t expect it tobe so bad. It gave me another perspective on life. What they have, it’s likethe greatest thing to them. We would think it was nothing to us but it wasthe greatest thing to them.”Gary Boe echoed Brignac’s words, saying things we take for granted, like Mardi Gras beads, the people there thought were the greatest things.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Boe said of his first impression of the villages. “Itwas like going back in time. They didn’t have the modern things like we do.When our air conditioning breaks down, we complain for days. These peoplego their whole lives without air conditioning.”Jeremy Hernandez said he was also shocked that people could live in those conditions.

“I wish I had more stuff to give them,” Hernandez said. “I realized thatyou really don’t need all this country has to offer. You just need the basicsin life.”Lindsey Hellwig was also struck by how the locals treasured what they had.

“How happy they were for every little thing they had,” Hellwig said. “Ithought how easily it could be me in that condition.”Members of the mission trip gave out flour and clothing to the locals and toys to the children. Students played with the local children and gave outcandy and Mardi Gras beads.

“We were amazed about how happy they were to see us,” Jade Brady said.

“Their faces just lit up, and they put you on a pedestal.”The students also visited a orphanage. While there, one young boy went upto Ledet and a friend of hers and gave them the only pieces of candy he had.

“They were really excited to see us,” Ledet said. “I learned ‘gracious’really quick.”Another time, Tim Guillot gave a soccer ball to a young boy who took it and ran away. A couple of minutes, he came back and told Guillot “thankyou” in English. Guillot realized that the boy had run away to findsomebody to tell him how to say thank you in English.

It was the second time Guillot had made the trip. Ascension of Our Lordhad gone with Our Lady of the Rosary, which has been going on mission trips twice a year for the past 15 years, in December. What amazed himwas that when he went this time, the people were able to celebrate the Feast of Transfiguration, a religious holiday, in the streets without anyone complaining.

“I was in awe of people’s faith and their belief in God,” Guillot said.

While there, the mission priests would hold masses for the local villages.

Because it might be the only mass the locals would have for four to six weeks, the priests would perform all the sacraments. Ledet recalled oneinstance of a handicapped man dragging himself for miles in order to attend church.

“They had such a strong faith in God,” Nikki McGill said. “You would thinkbecause they had so little, they would be mad at Him, but it made them more appreciative.”The trip also made the students more appreciative of their own lives. MaryGuillot, Tim’s sister, recalled losing a ring on the trip and having one of the local girls bringing it back to her. Guillot gave the ring to the girl inappreciation.

“I was shocked how we could live so differently,” Guillot said. “We haveso much and they have nothing. I think it changed me a lot. I don’t get angrywhen I don’t have what other people have. I’m more appreciative of mystuff.”The trip also changed Mara Harris’ life. Harris, a student at The GladeSchool, made the trip with her parents.

“Every time we were eating, they would tell me not to throw my food away because I might end up like they are,” Harris said. “It kind of scaredme to see people like that. I started to eat my food.”The mission trip lasted seven days, but Boe said that time changed his life and how he sees it.

“I never complain now when I don’t get something I really want,” Boe said.

“I look at life from a different perspective because I saw it through the eyes of different people.”

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