In continuing to share inspiring stories on Sunday’s during Lent, today I would like to introduce you to my friend Luke Maurer. Luke is 25 years old and works as a lab tech for a nutritional company in his hometown of Evansville, IN. Luke is passionate about mission and after his latest trip, he developed a sponsorship program for underpriviledged children in Central Asia. Please read his story and consider sponsoring a child or student. Luke’s story is a testament to how just a few people can create a major positive impact in the world. It is also a great reminder that we should take nothing for granted and appreciate everything. The link to sign up through Uncharted International for the sponsorship program is near the end of the page.
See Luke’s message below in his own words.
Stacey ~ iamalive
A year and a half ago I got the amazing opportunity to travel halfway across the world with a small team to help serve underprivileged children in Central Asia. I worked at a “street kids” school. It is a school for children on the street usually selling anything from plastic bags to stuff they found in the garbage in an attempt to help earn money for their families.
This school offers a free education to these children who would not normally be able to afford schooling. They can be just about any age. I got the awesome opportunity to sit down with each child and talk to them about their life and interests.
I used this information along with pictures we took to develop a sponsorship program for these children. This sponsorship program has now raised thousands of dollars for these children and their school. Originally getting on the plane I thought I would just help out some teachers, bring some school supplies, play some games, and maybe teach a few things. I had no idea I was going to interview 300+ kids and help develop a sponsorship program. My team consisted of only three people including myself and we were only there for a week. It is crazy how big of an impact such a small group can have if they just go out there and do something.
When I wasn’t working on the sponsorship program I got the opportunity to try my hand in teaching. After a few days I had picked up on the local language and could count to at least ten. This was more than what some of the children knew so I taught a class of students their numbers from 1-10 in their language and in English.
While teaching the children their numbers I soon found out that the “th” sound does not exist in their language. My students were counting, “one, two, tree”. The teacher and I found this quite humorous and although we did not speak the same language, we laughed together.
Apart from working on the sponsorship program and teaching I also got to play games with the children. We brought balloons, bubblegum, and a parachute with us. It was the funniest thing in the world to watch the children try to blow up the balloons. To some it came easy; to others not so much. Many kids were putting all the effort their bodies could generate into blowing up their balloon only to still be left with a deflated balloon.
I would eventually help them and in the process probably contracted more germs than I would like to know. The kids had so much fun hitting the balloons around in the air and bouncing them on the parachute.
The experience was extremely humbling and brought forth an increased sense of gratitude. These children appreciated everything and looked forward to going to school and learning because it was not easy to come across education where they live, as opposed to many places in the world where kids dread school and do not realize how grateful they should be for readily accessible education. These children were having the time of their life with something as simple as just hitting balloons around. They live in a country riddled with war and poverty but still smile more than most people in countries with an abundance of everything where the worst part of a person’s day is not getting signal on their smart phone. Nowadays people are not so easily satisfied. We get caught up in everything and find ourselves working non-stop and adding unnecessary stress to our lives to earn money in order to buy luxuries and entertainment in an attempt to alleviate the stress that we go through to get them in the first place (We work to buy things to reduce our stress from work). It is a paradox and makes no sense. However, if we found pleasure in simple things like quality time with friends and family we would have no need to buy a lot of things and therefore no need to kill ourselves working.
Whenever you finally come to the realization that you can take nothing with you when you die and that all the treasures you build up on Earth are worthless you begin to appreciate the simpler things in life. We can learn a lot from those who have the least. These are the people who have found happiness in the midst of strife, how much more should we be happy? I have learned a lot by spending time with these people and am so glad that I got to be a part of this experience. I hope everyone else gets the chance to experience something like this as well. I would highly encourage everyone to try and visit and serve in a 3rd world country sometime in their life. I hope to one day go back and revisit the friends I made while over there.
If anyone wants to sponsor a student from the street kid school it is super easy. Just follow this link to Uncharted’s website: https://unchartedinternational.org/. Once there you can either click the link that says “Sponsor a Central Asia Student” located above the picture of two students or click the first picture under the giant sideshow at the top of the page that says “Sponsor a child/student”, then click the slideshow. From there it is pretty straightforward. If anyone has any trouble they can always contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.