Today, secondary student Ellie McDowell shares how God has grown her through the ministry of service. A big thank you to Ellie for writing this blog and sharing her story.
I want to first start off by saying that service is not one of my spiritual gifts, and I often have to mentally push myself to step out of my comfort zone. For as long as I can remember, serving others has been a high priority in my family. My mom and dad did not have the same opportunities to serve growing up. They have instilled the idea that service is a privilege and a joy. This requires stepping out of your comfort zone which is often easier said than done.
Before I was adopted, my mom was sad every Mother's Day so to make someone else's day bright, she would bake cookies and then take them to the local mall. This tradition then spread and every holiday I would go with my mom to any place that was open on holidays. We would always attach a note that would say “Happy Easter” or Happy Valentines Day”, and Jesus loves you. As a two-year-old I viewed service as something fun to do rather than a chore. Now on Christmas we will go to gas stations, hotels and lastly Waffle House to give out cookies, which is incredibly rewarding to see that we made their Christmas special. Waffle House is my personal favorite place to hit because they are always so receptive.
The first calling on my heart that I wanted to make a difference and help others was when I was five. I was laying in bed one night staring at my "The Sound of Music" poster when to start crying and I began talking out loud to God. I felt like God told me to put up a tent and feed the homeless. That morning I told my mom. We watched a testimony of homeless people who had found Jesus in the midst of their pain. After witnessing this testimony, I was more burdened for the homeless. I told my parents my dream, and they helped me bring it to life.
First we all visited Must Ministries, and I got to have a tour and talk to some of the people taking refuge there. Next, we went to Costco to buy supplies to make sandwiches, hot dogs and little goodie bags. Finally, the day came that I got to live my dream. We set up a tent and gave out the food we prepared and served the people at Must Ministries.
"I have learned that in fact I do love serving others. Serving can be uncomfortable, but every time I serve the results are way better than I expect. Even a simple smile or taking the time to ask about someone's day can make a huge impact. I want to challenge you as a Christian to consider it a privilege to be called and asked to serve the kingdom."
Then when I was 13, I went on my first mission trip to Guatemala. There we put on a science camp which is humbling because some of the kids were over the age of ten and it was their first exposure to basic concepts like the stages of weather. I also visited the homes of the families that our mission partners helped. I remember one of my most treasured moments was when one of the women cleaned up her whole home before we walked in and gave me her handmade flower clip as a gift. I was so touched by this because she showed us so much hospitality when we went to serve her. This hair clip was one of the few possessions she had, and she gave it to me.
The second overseas mission trip I went on was to China in December 2016 where I got to play with special needs children. It broke my heart that some of these kids were older and still had not been matched with a forever family. I can’t imagine what they must go through. It was evident that the children had grown accustomed to saying goodbye because my mom held one little girl for an hour, and she did not seem upset when we had to go. In a way they learned to cope with situations adults struggle with. Seeing them smile and laugh in hard circumstances was a very humbling experience.