Spreading positivity through volunteering

Helping people clean up their houses and spreading the gospel all with a smile; this is what senior Alisal Perez did on her first mission trip during the fall of last year.

Perez traveled with Eight Days of Hope, a nonprofit disaster relief organization that helps rebuild homes devastated by natural disasters, to visit South Carolina, Texas and Nashville with her church, Christ Community Church, and the organization to help those affected by the Black River flooding and Hurricane Matthew in October, 2014.

Perez visited several cities in South Carolina such as Kingstree, Georgetown, Salters and Florence to help those who were victimized by the natural disasters. During her time in these cities, she helped clean people’s yards. From this experience, Perez has learned to appreciate the small things in life and to treasure them.

“It was my first missionary trip and I honestly loved it. We need to be thankful for what we have because there was no electricity or water [there], so it was really hard to talk to my family and shower,” Perez said. “I felt really happy and proud because we were able to make people happy through simple acts.”

She has been attending church since she was only one year old, but has struggled to come to terms with her faith in middle school and freshman year.

“I was wavering in my faith, but the church has really taught me what the Bible says and helped me grow in my walk with the Lord. I didn’t know who I was and where I belonged, and this is when I didn’t really know anything about church. I went to church but I wasn’t really there,” Perez said.

She participated in her church’s youth group, where her peers familiarized her with religion and introduced her to career choices. Her experiences in church helped her with decisions such as what to pursue in the future.

“I spoke to my youth leader about how I felt, and I told my parents. They really helped me work through my issues. When I joined the youth group in my church, they helped me understand God’s love,” Perez said. “They taught me that there is a reason for everything that happens in my life. Whenever I have anxiety or feel sad, I always have God to turn to. And knowing that God is always there with me helped me believe in him.”

Perez has learned the valuable lessons of spreading positivity as well as gratefulness from this opportunity and is eager to go on more missionary trips in the future. Although she was unable to attend, her church traveled to Houston, Texas to provide humanitarian services in light of the recent Hurricane Harvey incident. However, she hopes to join her church, along with Eight Days of Hope, to offer aid to Hurricane Irma victims once the storm ends.

“Going to Eight Days of Hope, I didn’t expect that there wasn’t going to be electricity and water all the time. I am just trying to be flexible wherever the Lord guides me,” Perez said. “You have to be thankful for what you have and just one smile could help them, so being nice to people is very important.”

By Sherman Wu, Feature editor
Photo courtesy of Alisal Perez