International Poverty­ Trip: St. Lucia

by Carissa Trepanier

Through the Good News Project Inc. and the St. Norbert College TRIPS Program, I have been in St. Lucia for almost two weeks now on a service trip.  As I write this blog just two nights before departure on a weak signal of wifi, I can’t help but want to share every experience with you.  I promise you this blog won’t be a description of my every move but instead will be about what I’ve strived for on this trip and what I am determined to implement into my life back in Wisconsin.

Simplicity.

The people of St. Lucia get it.  Time is valuable and they demonstrate a simple but hardworking lifestyle.

We saw extreme poverty and yet the people living in these horrible conditions seemed to have the greatest PATIENCE, JOY, and FAITH. A fellow student at St. Norbert, Alex Velicer, summed it up nicely saying, “Poverty is struggling to survive NOT struggling to live.”

We live in a world full of busy and distracted people, wouldn’t you agree?

Sometimes busyness feels like a blessing! There are long days at work that we can’t wait to have fly by, we love social media and staying connected with friends, and we feel purpose when we exercise our talents.

On the other hand, and arguably way too often, busyness isn’t so fulfilling.  Busyness can leave us lying in bed over thinking things we could have done differently or hoping and praying tomorrow will go as planned, when really so much is out of our control.

Time is valuable.  Time is not guaranteed. Yet we spend most of our time neglecting to reflect; suggesting instead of resting.

God’s word is a great place to find truth about time and balance.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;  a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.”- Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Think about it from a different perspective…

24 hours in a day

1,440 minutes in a day

86,400 seconds in a day

10,080 minutes in a week

Where’s your sense of simplicity in it all?  You know the part where you get a breather and count your blessings?  Funny how we yearn for simplicity but quicker than we realize add another task to our to-do list.

I’ve put together two tips that have and will continue to propel me forward in my difficult but rewarding journey of gradual simplicity.

PRIORITIZE YOUR TIME

Take time for yourself. Read for 20 minutes or do a craft/hobby for a half hour. Literally it can be as simple as being in a place you normally don’t spend your time in and just sit. Easier said than done right? Wrong.  Well, technically true but really it just takes a strong person to put themselves and their joy first.  I truly believe in you. It really isn’t selfish when you think about it.  Yes, it may mean giving up time with or for other people for whatever length you need, but I’m quite positive that time you do spend with family or friends will be so much more REWARDING, POSITIVE, and MEANINGFUL.

GIVE BACK

Do these words make you feel overwhelmed? They do for me. I don’t “have time” to volunteer hours of my time every week and I’m sure you don’t either.  So I don’t. Instead, my advice would be to live your everyday life doing simple tasks with GREAT love.  Now that’s giving.  Give an extra smile to the person you don’t know, care more than half-asking the known all too well greeting “how ya doin?” and not listening to the response, or write a note to someone or compliment them on their positive traits/characteristics.

It’s true.  “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget the WAY YOU MADE THEM FEEL.” –Maya Angelou

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