What life holds for us is determined by how much we are willing to sacrifice. In the movie Freedom Writers, Ms. G is the main character. Her way of viewing life gives hope to the people surrounding her. In this essay, I am going to compare her willingness to sacrifice with the sacrifice I was once asked to make.
Ms. G dedicated herself to teaching a difficult group of students. California had integrated the school system, which resulted in a culture of conflict and violence. She spent a lot of her time and gave up a lot of her family life in order to help people that she barely knew. Her desires to make a change were clear and honest. For example, she took evening and weekend jobs in order to buy books and take her students on trips. She also made herself available to help students with personal issues. She had a strong desire to help her students understand that they were worthwhile, and that whatever challenges they faced, they could make their lives better. As a result of these efforts, her students learned to trust her and became united with each other. They began to feel hope for their future.
Even though Ms. G. experienced success and satisfaction in helping others, she faced opposition. Her marriage was jeopardized. Her husband could not understand why she spent so much time and energy with her students, and he often felt second in her life. He did try to cope with this lifestyle, but it was too much for him to deal with and he finally left the relationship.
I also embarked on a similar adventure. In June 2002, I was called to serve as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Denver, Colorado. While on my mission, I taught the gospel to Spanish speaking people. Like Ms. G, I was dedicated to a good cause working with Hispanic people. I also immersed myself in helping those people to overcome personal and family challenges. I sacrificed two years of my life to serve people I had never met. I did it with all my heart. I knew that teaching people how to apply correct principles in their lives was the best way for them to achieve happiness. My goal was to help others to understand the true gospel of Jesus Christ.
Teaching people the principles I knew to be true helped them to improve their lives and find joy as well. For example, I remember one person I taught; his name was Enrique. He was addicted to drugs and alcohol. When I found Enrique he told me that, from using drugs, he had lost his sense of taste and his body was no longer able to produce sweat. He also shared with me that his life had no purpose. He would go to work to get money to buy drugs, which created an endless cycle. I felt deep sorrow for him and wanted to do something to help him. I taught him about how to overcome his addictions to drugs and alcohol. Eventually, Enrique was able to overcome these addictions. I helped him to learn English and he began school at a University. Later, he told me how grateful he was for the new direction that his life was taking.
Not only was my service similar to Ms. G’s, but my challenges were also. My family was upset about me going away for so long because while I was away, I would not be able to help them financially. They told me that if I went, I might as well forget about them. “It’s either a mission or us,” they said. I knew that I could not abandon my commitment to serve a mission. I pled with my family to understand my decision, but they reluctantly dismissed me.
Once I was in the mission in Colorado, I tried to write to my family to let them know I was okay and that I was making a difference in the world by helping people to overcome many of the challenges that tear individuals and families apart. My family never answered my letters. I knew that what I was doing was right, but having my family reject me in those difficult years made me feel abandoned. Nonetheless, I was determined to continue working to help the people in Colorado.
Certainly, my experience was a much shorter period of time than Ms. G’s and eventually my family embraced me again, while Ms. G’s husband never returned. Also, she taught the same group of people for four years, whereas I traveled around and met new people. Nevertheless, during the time I served my mission, I, like Ms. G, learned what it means to give everything for a good cause regardless of the adversity. As Ms. G and I both persevered in doing what we felt was right, we discovered great meaning in our lives and the work we were doing.
In conclusion, our ability to fulfill our duty is not determined by our environment or surroundings. Ms. G and I have shown that if people’s hearts are in the right place, their rewards can be greater than what they lose. Our service, strength, and willingness can make a difference in the world regardless of who we are, or what we are standing for.