Emily Fenn

What It Mean$ To Be Rich

As one very right person said, “Here’s how it all starts: you get onto a cramped bus with forty nine other people, drive twenty hours to the middle of nowhere in the state of Kentucky, where you will sleep in a garage like complex, on rickety bunk beds.  You will wake up every morning to an over enthusiastic man who enjoys waking you up with a blow horn, where you will then go to work for eight hours.  After you come home, muddy, cold, wet, depending on where you worked, you will race for the showers only to find freezing cold water trickling out of the rusty faucets.”  However, some of these simple things we take for granted at home become part of the amazing experience shared by all who take part in the trip to Neon, Kentucky.  Everyone who goes on this yearly adventure comes out of it with the most incredible stories, inside jokes, and relationships.  On the bus ride there, people are only talking to their close friends and everyone remains seated, but on the way home, no one is in their own seat and everyone is talking to a whole new expanded group of friends.

I guess you could say that we all come out of this experience a little richer than we were before we went.  This trip to Kentucky questions people’s views and understandings about what it means to be rich.  What does it mean to be rich?  The best answer I have found to this question so far is that to be rich means to have a lot of something.  “A lot of something?  A lot of what?” You may ask.  Being rich all depends on a person’s perspective.  Being rich can mean many things, for example, being rich could mean having a lot of money, or it could mean having so much faith in something, that it causes even the strongest people to cry because they were moved by something so powerful.  For many who go to Kentucky, we experience a new kind of rich.  One that people in Lexington may never come in contact with, being wealthy or rich in faith.  The reason we go to Kentucky is to work for an organization called H.O.M.E.S., which is similar to Habitat for Humanity.  We build houses for people who are in need of financial aid or a new and improved home for them and their family.  For some background information about the people who live in Neon, Kentucky, money is extremely scarce there.  Their ways of life are very different from ours, in that they are not accustomed to spending money on unneeded brands, such as Coach or Abercrombie and Fitch.

During our stay in Kentucky, we have the privilege of being able to partake in a dinner with a small congregation from the First Church of Christ, in Neon, Kentucky. There, in that community is where the wealth truly lies.  The people of the First Church of Christ are amazing and rich.  When we compare the privileges we have in Lexington to those they have in Kentucky, many consider themselves to be better off or richer than the people of Kentucky, however I view it the other way around.  These extraordinary people may not have as much money as many of us have here in Lexington, but they have faith in God, in their community, family, friends, in anything you can think of that you could have faith in, they have it.  They have more faith in all of these things than anyone I have ever met, combined.  They have faith in their family as well as in their church family that everyone will be there for each other in times of need.  They also have faith that they will live long happy lives surrounded by people and things that they love.  Because they keep so much faith throughout their daily lives, it almost makes their lives and spirits seem to be a lot higher from those in my own life.  They are not bothered by the small things, many of which we take for granted.  For example, running out of hot water so you are left with a cold shower, or having your house cleaner cancel last minute so you are stuck cleaning the house by yourself.

The atmosphere that they have created is so welcoming and powerful that it really makes you conscious of how close the community is in Kentucky compared to the Lexington community.  For example, the people in Kentucky use each other for support systems and because the population in the town is very small, maybe a third the population of Lexington, every one knows one another and is at a friendly level with each other.  In Lexington, because it is such a big town with so many people, it is very hard for one to get to know everyone in Lexington on a personal level, although many do wish that Lexington was a tighter community.  Because their community is as close as it is it helps them to gain wealth.  They are all able to come together in this small church and just enjoy each other’s company and share in each other’s faith.  Because my friends and I have been able to partake in this unforgettable experience we all feel that we were able to take some of that wealth with us back home to Lexington, where we can hopefully spread this wealth on to others in our community.  Maybe this will help make Lexington a little richer; because we can all always use a taste of a different kind of wealth and better understand what it really means, to be rich.




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