Hello, my name is Emily B. I am 21 years old and currently go to The University of Akron; I will be finishing my senior year this year! I am going to be an elementary school teacher and will also have my Intervention Specialty license. I love children; I always have, so being a teacher has always been it for me. I questioned myself about it for a long time because of the money and the stability of the job, but God really put it on my heart that teaching is what he wants me to do and that its what I’m here for. So, I went with my heart and followed what God told me and I couldn’t be happier with that decision. I am happier now than I ever have been with this career choice and I can’t wait to be done and get out there and have some kiddo’s of my own to teach.

Since I have a passion have children, it has lead me to want to help them all over the world. Along with children, just people in general. I have a very big heart and a strong connection to people. This love and passion has lead me on many trips to different places to help the less fortunate.

My first ever mission trip was the summer before I was going into 6th grade. This trip was with my church to go to New Orleans. It was just after Hurricane Katrina hit. I was pretty young and I had never been anywhere outside of my neighborhood around me to help people so I was very anxious and excited. Little did I know how it would change my life completely. Because the hurricane had just hit, you can imagine the devastation that this place was in. I remember getting there and thinking, “is this real?”  My young 12-year-old eyes had never seen such devastation. Houses were just down on the ground turned into mush, cars were upside down and trashed, the roads were covered in litter and rubbish. My mind was blown. That whole trip, a fire was lit inside me and I found myself doing crazy things I would have never thought I’d be doing. From crawling into small tight places with roaches crawling around me, to carrying dry wall up flights of stairs with my twice my size. I wanted to do it all. I wanted to get my hands dirty and do the hard stuff. I wanted to help, all that I could. I remember wishing that I could just change that place from the inside out, and that’s what I tried to do.

“Go hard places, Do hard things.” – a motto my church lives by.

Ever since that trip, I had a fire within me that god built. I learned so much about my self, about God, and about the world. I had never seen anything like that, I was just so used to the way that life was where I lived and I just never really pictured how different it could be. It really takes going somewhere that is new to gain aspect and understanding of the world we live in. you have to open your eyes to see that not everyone has what we have, and its not always like this. I learned that more than anything on my New Orleans trip and I am so grateful for that experience.

The next trip I went on was later in my life when God brought to my attention the opportunity to go to Haiti with my church. It was my senior year of high school summer so I was going into college. I went with a team of other people my age for a weeklong trip. This was my first time going out of the country!! I had many friends who had been on this trip before and had heard about the life change that had happened and was always so intrigued by the thought of going here. So I prayed and prayed for God to show me a sign that this is where he wanted me to go, and he did, time and time again. So, I went.

This trip changed me, BIG TIME.

As the plane was landing, I remember looking out of my little window and looking down at the ground. All I could see were tiny square pieces of aluminum covering the ground, I was wondering what they were and as we got closer I remember thinking, “please tell me those are NOT houses… please tell me those are NOT houses!”

Low and behold… they were houses.

That trip was a life changer. From seeing the poverty in this country, to children underfed, to families with no roof over their head. But one thing I will never forget from this country was that even with so much devastation around them, they still had HOPE. It boggled my mind how people with nothing, still had JOY in knowing that Jesus loves them and that everything will be alright.

After that trip, I came home a new person. Everything was different for me. I remember having a really hard time adjusting back to life here. I wanted to throw away everything I owned. I just felt so selfish for wanting and having all the luxuries that I have. I was almost disgusted by it. I remember not being able to eat because when I would I would think about all the people and all the children in Haiti who didn’t even have a meal today, or this week. I just couldn’t stop thinking about Haiti. I was a mess for a couple weeks, wondering if I would ever be okay with how my life is. I prayed to God just to help me sort out all my emotions and all my feeling. And he taught me something very important.

-“It is okay to have things, and to have money. But if I am not sharing my money and putting it to something good, something that honors God, then that is the problem.”

He reminded me of that time and time again.

God changed me. He changed how I viewed life very significantly. I became a less selfish person and way more open and knowledgeable about the world.
The following summer… I went back to Haiti. But this time, for 6 weeks! So I was there for a month and a half. Life change for me happened and my perspective of God changed, I became closer to Him than ever before and was forced to rely on Him in some really tough but life changing experiences.

I formed forever-lasting friendships and I will forever have a part of my heart that finds a home in Haiti.

What I will be doing THIS summer, with help from LLA:

I will be traveling to Los Angeles with a team from my church! Here we will be working with homeless in Skid Row and doing a bible camp (in a mainly Latino community), we will also be doing some fun things for the kids, like a bible camp, and all the fun things that come along with that, and we will also just getting our hands dirty with whatever this community needs from us. Most importantly though, we will be showing God’s love to these people who may not even know who He is.  By reflecting His positive light in LA, my team and I hope to bring many lives over to God by sharing the gospel.

I am VERY excited for this opportunity and I cannot wait to get out there! This trip would not have been possible for me without the help from LLA, so for that I am forever grateful!

—Take risks. Go outside your comfort zone. Get you hands dirty. LOVE.—

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