Michael Schoenecker - School for the Deaf and Blind

The most memorable service project I have ever completed came in Lebanon when my family and I were visiting relatives. I was given the opportunity to go with my cousin. The task we had was to assist some elementary school students on a pair of end of the year field trips. The children however, all shared the unfortunate affliction of being hearing challenged. Some in fact could not hear anything at all. They all welcomed us warmly and were determined not to let their conditions deter them. The first day we took the children on a hiking trip in the wilderness. The road was challenging especially for the kids, many of whom had balance issues as well. I had to make sure no one tripped, hurt themselves or got separated from the group. The second day we took the children to the home of a musician who taught them how to use traditional African drums. It was important to keep an eye on them as we walked through the city so that nobody got distracted or lost. Thankfully all went well, and the kids had a lot of fun on their field trips.

This experience allowed me to become a better person in many ways. The first and perhaps most important is that it taught me patience. When dealing with young children patience is absolutely essential, when those kids have trouble speaking and hearing it becomes even more important. I had to exercise patience in order to communicate and to understand the children's needs. It also taught me leadership by putting me in a position of accountability. I felt responsible for all of the children and they came to me and the other helpers whenever they had questions or needed something. This experience also humbled me by showing me how lucky I am to be able to simply hear and speak normally. 

Taking part in the field trips will help me in the future by giving me experience. Whenever I need to be a leader I will not hesitate because of my past success in leading that group. My communication skills will be improved because of the struggles I went through. I will always strive to be as clear and direct as possible, knowing full well that there are those who may be listening but not understand. I will continue to grow in my love and patience for others. On the trips I felt a deep caring for all of the children and I would like to feel that way towards everyone. My patience grows every day, when I am tested I will be quick to forgive and forget. Going on the trips will help me to never take anything for granted, especially health because it can all be taken away in a heartbeat. I want to live my life to the fullest for Jesus every day and having this experience has really taught me how.  

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