I read the email at 11:30 p.m.

I was pretty tired and once again, I shouldn’t have been checking email before going to bed but it’s a bad habit that I have. As soon as I saw the subject, adrenaline surged through my body and I suddenly wasn’t tired anymore.

“Congratulations! A donation has been made to your account!”

I opened the email and confirmed my hunch. This donation had just helped me meet my fundraising goal for my upcoming December trip to Africa. The donor didn’t know this, because I still had some offline donations that weren’t recorded on the website, but with this last donation it was official. All the money was in.

In two short months, just two days after Christmas, I will say good-bye to my family and travel halfway across the globe to a continent I’ve only heard about. I will meet and spend time with children at the Child Rescue Centre in Bo, Sierra Leone that I have only seen pictures of and heard stories about. I will eat food unlike any food I’ve ever eaten in the United States. I’m told I will be hot, that there will be moments when I am exhausted from traveling for multiple days at a time, and that I will experience incredible joy.

It’s been a humbling experience, raising money for this trip. Asking for money doesn’t rank high on my list of pleasurable activities. I was scared and hesitant about how things would go.

I was not prepared for the generosity that I would experience from my friends and family. I knew I was friends with some pretty great people, I just never realized how generous they’d be. With each donation, my heart beamed with thanksgiving, knowing I was one step closer to reaching my goal. Each dollar that came in was further verification that this trip was going to be great. It was as if each of these benefactors was saying “I’m proud of you, I know you are going to do great things and be forever changed.” I was humbled every single time.

There are 27 names that I will carry with me to Africa. They are the names of the 27 friends and family members that made my trip possible. When I am tired from long days of travel and don’t know when I will have a chance to rest, I will remind myself of the 27 people who believe in me back home. When I am laughing and smiling with the children, I will be thankful to the 27 people who gave me this chance to experience joy.

There are countless others who I know will be supporting me while I am gone; a girl can never have too many people praying for her! However, I literally would not be going on this trip if it weren’t for the generosity of the 27 families that are financially supporting me. Their financial gift is providing me with an experience that no amount of money could ever repay.

To them I am forever grateful.

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