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Excerpted from God Allows U-Turns for Teens compiled by Allison Bottke (with Cheryl Hutchings)


God Allows U-Turns: Boomerang Blessings

By Esther M. Bailey as told by Amber Egelston
Guest Writer -- (Excerpt from God Allows U-Turns for Teens)

Every summer since I started high school, I've gone on a short-term mission trip. As worthwhile as these experiences have been, I have gained equal value from the fund-raising efforts to pay for the trips.

After a couple years of sponsoring car washes and soliciting money from friends and family, our youth leader came up with a new twist. He put a brightly colored flyer in the church bulletin that read RENT-A-KID. The names of about twenty kids were listed with phone numbers and services offered.

I was open to do most anything, but I included baby-sitting, housework, and cooking on my list. While wondering what results I might get, I received a call.

"Amber, I don't have any jobs for you, but I do have a proposal. If I give you a check for a hundred dollars, would you like to work it out by doing good deeds for people who can't afford to pay?"

"Cool," I thought, as an idea already began to form in my mind. "How much work should I do?"

My sponsor said, "I'll leave that entirely up to you."

"I'll get started on it right away," I said.

Through contacts in my church, I knew about a family in real need of help. The husband is paralyzed from the waist down and his general health is poor. His wife works outside the home in addition to caring for their three children. On three occasions I volunteered my services to watch the kids and tidy up the house.

One time I worked for eleven hours straight. The job was quite challenging, especially when the kids got really wild. Some of those hours seemed to crawl! Each time I finished the task, though, I felt fulfilled and very good about myself. Their expressions of appreciation really touched my heart.

By this time, I figured I had more than earned the hundred dollars at the normal baby-sitting rate. I wanted to go the extra mile, though, so I was open to yet another opportunity for community service.

Through an outreach ministry of our youth group, I spent a Saturday morning painting over graffiti on the walls of a local residential area. I didn't find the job to be taxing at all. Having my friends working with me, it was almost fun! The families appreciated our help so much, it made up for the clothes I ruined—my fault anyway. Next time I'll wear something old.

After I returned from the mission trip to Mexico, I think the desire to do community service was in my blood. Through the Christian school I attended, I volunteered to help with a party for impoverished children. A lot of planning went into the event: calling for donations, ordering items, last-minute shopping, and many little details that had to be taken care of.

At the party I was in charge of a little girl named Kylee. We played games, decorated cookies, ate pizza, and had some very interesting talks. We really clicked, and people even told us we looked like sisters. This experience was so very rewarding for me. Watching the joy on the children's faces and their excitement over the littlest things humbled me. I cherished the time with the kids, and I've kept Kylee's name tag in my room to pray for her as often as I can.

When my school planned a service trip to a poor church in Mexico, I made the choice to go along. It was a choice that truly did change the story of my life. We took food, money, household goods, and basic supplies to them.

During the weekend, our group conducted two church services, prepared two meals for members of the congregation, chopped firewood, painted one of the buildings, and drove their trash to the dump. Any sacrifice I made was more than made up through fellowship with the other students and with members of the congregation. It truly amazed me to see how happy they are with so little.

All of these experiences and more have helped me make a commitment to expand my time in service to the community. I truly enjoy helping people, but it seems I get the best deal. The blessings I hope to bring to others always bounce back to me. Just like a boomerang!

Excerpted from God Allows U-Turns for Teens compiled by Allison Bottke (with Cheryl Hutchings)
Copyright © 2006; ISBN 0764201816 Published by Bethany House Publishers
Used by permission. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.

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