If I would have been asked a year ago to describe what I thought poverty was, I would probably compare it to one of those Feed the Children television commercials because I never had a firm idea of what poverty was. I knew that there were people who were poor in the world but I never wanted to let myself believe that anyone could have such a bad life; after all I had been blessed with so much. In November 2006 I was given the opportunity to go on a 16 day mission trip to Uganda, Africa. There was no doubt in my mind that I was supposed to go on that trip and my family supported me in that decision. We all knew I was called by God to go on this trip. I knew going to Africa would be an experience of a lifetime but nothing could prepare me for the reality that was about to unfold before my eyes. Young children chased our bus yelling “muzungo” or “white man.” The sick, the hungry, the cold, and the dying all lined the streets of Kampala, the capital city of Uganda. The kids suffered from malnourishment from lack of food, many did not have a house to go home to, and a majority of the children were part of 2.3 million children in Uganda alone are orphans due to HIV/AIDS and malaria. For the first time in my life I was looking poverty in the eyes. I was speechless at the reality that was right in front of me. I no longer could deny the poverty I never wanted to believe was true. For the next two weeks I spent my time in a small village outside of Kampala with the group I was traveling with. We painted two large rooms, a wall sized mural symbolizing the theme of the trip, “Together We Grow Strong,” we had a doctor and three nurses working in a medical clinic, two musicians teaching music camps, and more important all 28 of us building relationships with our brothers and sisters living this poverty-stricken community of Africa. The people I met in Africa were the happiest people I have ever met. I could not grasp how they could be so happy. Nightly I would compare my life to theirs. I thought of all the things I had waiting at home for me and the lack of basic necessities that these people suffered from. I then recalled all the times in my life that I had been so unhappy; could these people have the answer to my unhappiness? Possibly happiness comes with simplest. The people never complained about being hungry or cold, they were just happy to be alive, for them, God was all they needed. If someone were to ask me to describe poverty now I would say that poverty is the lack of basic needs for survival. I would say that poverty is a real and growing epidemic affecting millions of people around the world. I would also say that I have seen poverty with my own eyes and what I saw will change my life forever. After traveling to Africa, I have become more grateful of the blessings I have been given. I appreciate running water and try not to complain when I am the one to get the cold shower in the morning because I know that my brothers and sisters in Africa will walk at least a mile to have dirty water. I appreciate each meal given to me and do not throw away anything, for I know in Africa there are men, women, and children going to bed hungry. I value my education and opportunities given to me to make my life better because I know that there are people in Africa who would do anything to have the chances I do to make their dreams come true. And most importantly, I make a daily commitment to live my life for Christ, to be a constant witness of his love, and to promote peace in my school, community, and around the world.