Hello, my name is Kate Sommer and I have attended the Lighthouse since the beginning years of my life. The Lighthouse Christian Academy has given me innumerable opportunities that have opened my eyes to the larger world around me.  My sophomore year of high school I took part in a medical mission trip to Sierra Leone, West Africa. Little did I know how much there was to see.

I’ve grown up in the comfort of a stable home and didn’t fully understand what life would be like if my daily foundation were to be stripped from under me. Always with a roof above my head and a loving hand to hold, my life was ideal, and I began to get complacent. Taking the little things in life for granted and not taking advantage of all the opportunities I had, it would take a journey to the poorest nation in the world to change my selfish perspective.

After 38 hours of traveling we were on the ground in Freetown, Sierra Leone, I began working in the clinic every day distributing prescriptions and organizing pills to thousands of people in desperate need.  In the evenings there was the humid heat, the lack of electricity and bucket showers.  But it was the daily trips to the clinic where my eyes were truly opened.  On the dry dusty roads every child I saw had one piece of clothing on their body, yet not one with a frown. With little to eat every day and no water to drink, their attitudes resembled pure joy and contentment.  I began to realize how much I own and how little they did, but how much more daily joy they portrayed.

This taught me a lesson; a lesson of resilience. Each day is a constant struggle for them. Never knowing when the next time they will eat or have a sip of water is a daily adversity. They remain unshaken through constant opposition. They remain resilient, and the result is happiness.  I was astounded by their remarkable ability to take a sour situation and turn into something of value to positively affect their life.

The people of Freetown showed me that the little things in life don’t matter. My own difficulties seem so minute when I see their side of the world. I went there to help them temporarily, but they truly gave me a perspective that I will carry forever. Yes my situations here in America are not as challenging, but I can tackle my own struggles with the same resilience I saw in them.  The smile on their face through their adversity has taught me that I too can rise above any challenge I face and rejoice regardless of my circumstances.

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