While trying to write this post, I tried to find something to inspire me. I turned to my Bible and opened it to
1 Thessalonians 5:18. Inside I saw I had put a bus pass there. But this isn’t any ordinary bus pass: it has a special place in my heart.
During the summer, I got an awesome opportunity to go to this 2-week almost-seminary-type camp, where I got to live in an intentional Christian community and learn about my faith in new ways. While I was there I got to experience really cool mission trips, which really impacted my faith-journey. The last one I went on was one of my favorites.
We started off by talking about all the people that are under the poverty line in America; even though they get benefits from the government, it still isn’t enough for them on a day-to-day basis, especially when the families have children under 5. They get a set amount of money that is supposed to help them a lot, but sometimes, life just happens.
Then we started our activity. We - 8 kids and 2 adults - were split up into groups pretending to be a family of 4 with 2 children under the age of 5. We were given the task of getting groceries for “our family.” We were expected to spend 30% of our SNAP benefits (what the government provides us), which amounted to around $130. But since life happens, we first had to spend $50 of it for an urgent care bill because one of our kids broke their arm on the playground, leaving only $80 to spend on food.
Next we were given a map and a bus ticket and were told that we had to go to an HEB. Also, as a roadblock, our adults could not help us; in fact they were pretending to be our kids under the age of 5! None of us knew where any bus stops were or even what they looked like. On top of that, we had to make sure our “kids” didn’t run off and get lost.
Eventually, after walking around for almost 20 minutes, we found the right stop and got on the bus. I didn’t even know how to put my ticket in the machine because there were so many different holes and buttons that the bus driver just had to do it for me. Once we were on the bus, we had to figure out when to get off. We also decided the bus ride would be a good time to discuss our budget and what we had to buy.
It was hard at first because no one had really budgeted before and we didn’t have a clue what anything costs. We had a variety of items on our list and hoped for the best. While we were on the bus, one of the adults pulled out a piece of paper with more roadblocks that we had to deal with in order to do the challenge correctly: we had to buy dog food; one of our kids’ birthday was that week, so we had to buy a cake of some sort; and finally our other child broke their flip flops, so we had to pay $7 to buy a new pair. We had to factor all of those things in when we went into the store.
By the time we got to the HEB, we were almost out of time. A lot of us argued about what would be the best to buy, and we were so crunched for time that we were all stressed out. We had less than 20 items, were almost at $65, and barely had everything we needed for the week. If it had been real life, we would have failed.
On our way back to the bus stop, we realized that if this was real we would have had to carry everything with us back onto the bus - maybe even carry a child - so we couldn’t have gotten everything on our list anyway because it is not like your two kids under 5 years old can help you carry much.
That experience was eye-opening and made me feel really grateful for everything I have. It made me thankful that I have a car so I don’t have to take the bus to get places. It made me thankful that my parents are able to provide for our family so we don’t have to worry about having enough groceries for that week. Also, it made me feel that I take way too much for granted and that I should be able to appreciate what I have and be thankful for what my family provides me with.
Written by Sarah
The 12:12 Project is sponsored by Katy First United Methodist Church.