Finding Treasures Through Service

August 2, 2016 • Bolivia
Ruth Bell River Boat

An intern learns about giving to others

Arline Mejía is an intern with Samaritan’s Purse in Bolivia.

There is beauty in serving others, not only because of what we have to offer but also because of the hidden treasures we find along the way. This fills my heart with a warm feeling of humility because when I serve others, my life experiences break through.

I spent 10 days living, eating, sleeping, laughing, crying, and serving on the Ruth Bell Riverboat. Getting to experience and witness a blend of brokenness and hope throughout 10 days transformed my perspective on what giving oneself to others really means.

Ruth Bell Riverboat

Arline with Lucero from Carmen del Remanso

I cannot fully express with words what this time meant to me on a personal and spiritual level. However, I can say with full confidence that a piece of my heart stayed with the people, especially with the little ones. Through one experience, the Lord showed me what He meant by “For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6, NKJV).

We visited the community of Carmen del Remanso on our seventh day of travel. From the beginning, we noticed something special about its people. They weren’t sitting around waiting for others to help them. They weren’t pondering on their problems or needs. They were joyful, hard-working people who appreciated the little or the plenty they had.

One of the first ladies who came to the Ruth Bell for medical assistance brought a bag full of oranges from her garden for us. I was moved by her selfless act of kindness because she gave from the little she had and she did it with joy.

Often we think of service as a privilege to share with the needy, but my favorite part is when I witness little acts of love like this one. The people in the community of Carmen del Remanso taught me precious lessons that I will forever treasure.

They taught me that hard work and discipline are the keys to true success and that poverty is only in one’s mind. While visiting this community, the Lord showed me how meaningful our work is and how precious His Word is.

Ruth Bell Riverboat

Spiritual Food in Rural Bolivia

This happened on a Sunday morning, when we had the opportunity to have a time of worship and fellowship with the community. We started singing hymns in one accord, accompanying the beautiful melodies of a guitar. Suddenly, ethnicities, social status, nationalities, and denominations disappeared. We all became one people, bringing an offering of praise before our Father. Both the old ones and the little ones attended, filling my heart with joy for what God was doing in their hearts.

After singing, Dr. Bill, our dentist, shared a Scripture from Psalm 139. He taught us about the personal God we have and how much He desires to have a relationship with us. After explaining verse by verse, Dr. Bill started sharing the message of salvation. He asked if anyone wanted to receive Jesus, and we all prayed together. Our time of fellowship ended singing the beautiful lyrics of a hymn called “How beautiful it is to be a part of the family of God.”

We thought our time was over when suddenly Carlos, a member of the community, stood up. He expressed how grateful he was that Samaritan’s Purse had come. He was thankful for the staff not only because they came to offer medical help but also because they offered spiritual help. Carlos talked about how much they need this spiritual food, especially the little ones growing up.

He told us how the little children remember the songs that Myrian, a staff member from the boat, teaches them whenever the Ruth Bell visits. Carlos also said they don’t get to hear from the Word of God often because they don’t have a church building or a long-term pastor or missionary in the community.

His words, his genuine expression, and his humility filled my eyes with tears. Every word he said felt like a gentle and warm drizzle that refreshed my heart. The Lord broke my heart because He showed me through Carlos’ testimony the hunger and thirst of many.

Ruth Bell Riverboat

Children in the community of Carmen del Remanso

There is a world out there that needs to hear the Good News of Salvation. My heart aches every time I remember how many people are hurting without Jesus. But I’m also hopeful to know that our work is not in vain: “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11, NKJV).

I’m glad that I’m a bridge, an instrument to take the Word to the ends of the earth, but I rejoice even more in the fact that the King of the Universe is the one who changes hearts.

Service means much more than giving our time and resources. It can impact people and establish a before and after in their lives. I see service as the light of the sun reflecting on a river. At first, it’s hard to see because of the brightness and heat. But once you squint and look closely, you discover that it looks like glitter shining on the water.

You can’t discover such beauty without sitting still, listening, and seeing beyond the horizon. Service becomes much more precious when we discover the treasures it holds.

The words of Carlos in the community of Carmen del Remanso reminded me that our work as an organization and as ambassadors is more impactful than we think. Never underestimate the power of the Word of God and what He can do with a heart willing to serve.

The Samaritan’s Purse internship program is an opportunity for college students and recent graduates to use their skills to impact the world in a tangible way. Find out more here.