Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Gaining Perspective

This post comes from the Dominican Republic, where I've been for the past 3 weeks. It's been a good while since I've published a blog post; I have a few posts I've started and still need and intend to finish. So watch out peeps! And despite this hiatus from blogging, I personally consider it one of my life mantras to live wholeheartedly. I guess that just makes me a little more wholehearted than everybody else*
So, yep!  I'm currently in the Dominican Republic, helping to oversee and volunteer for a humanitarian organization called "HEFY" (Humanitarian Experience for Youth). It's a chance for youth ages 16-19, to travel to a foreign country in need, and help in a local humanitarian project in an effort to 1)better the world and 2) just as importantly, better the perspective of the participants involved. The organization goes everywhere, including places such as Tonga, Fiji and Belize, and it was my great luck to come to the Dominican Republic. This experience as it has been for me thus far, wholeheartedly fulfills the previous two objectives I mentioned. While I could speak a lot on both (perhaps more than even any lds high councilmen could while giving a sacrament meeting talk),  for this post I'd like to focus on the 2nd, seeing as I'm selfish, and it applies to me, and because I guess I like myself, a lot.
I have gained a better perspective. Of myself; Of people; Of life. Of God.
This new perspective was not easy to come by. God knows it's been a rough year for me, and He also knows how much I needed this change. I've experienced more loneliness, self disappointment, anxiety and pain in a  short amount of time than I'd ever previously thought I could handle. I know there are others who have it much rougher, nevertheless, It's been hard. 
Within it all, I kept wondering when my trials would end. Was there a way to escape all the pain I felt, or was there a silver lining to the dark clouds in my life? The hardest question I'd ask myself was if all of this adversity I faced was self inflicted, and if it never ended because I wasn't strong enough, or even worse, because I wanted to be in pain.

  I had much to be grateful for in my life, sure, I'm not anywhere like these kids I meet here in the DR: no home, no means of support or love. I do believe that meeting them has helped change my perspective most assuredly, if it's not the #1 reason for it.  But as those who experience pain know, it's hard to appreciate the good in your life when it seems the negative is from every angle inescapable. So I felt trapped. And scared. Scared things would never change; scared I would never change.

 I came on this trip believing it had the chance to change me. I wanted it to, so badly. I needed an escape from the mundane things in my everyday life  that suffocated me. I'd feel on a nearly daily basis the desire to just run, as far and as fast as I could. I wanted a new life, a new setting.

So with this in mind, I took the leap to the DR, with HEFY, and with 22 other selfless minded people (unlike myself). This was my chance.

Since being here in the Dominican Republic, I've had the chance to meet several people. I've met starving kids, hanging around at the beach, who will lunge at the opportunity to eat your leftovers. I've met kids, parents and community members alike  from the school HEFY is helping to build here in Santo Domingo, who sit and stare at you all day, simply because they have nothing else to do with their time and because they cling to the hope that your contributions will better their lives.  One such kid, Anderson, is around 10 years old, deaf and usually nearly naked, clothed only in tighty whities, and emaciated from lack of nutrition. These are poor, humble people whom I've met. The thing I find the most impressive amidst them all, is to see their joy.
(This is Anderson, he wanted me to pick him up and twirl him around, so I did)

(This is Margarita; She loves it when I refer to her as my Dominican Mother. I love her)

Their is something enriching and empowering about helping those less fortunate then you. I can't at the moment think of any more worthy, pure motive, than trying to help others for the sake of caring. I'm not sure where it happened for me that my perspective changed. It could have happened the moment I stepped off the plane, picked at coral in the ground to help build a foundation for a wall, or laughed with a little kid at his jokes. But what I can see and feel now continually is joy. And peace. I think everyone needs this kind of experience in their life. In fact, I feel safe to say it's  essential if one hopes for any sort of relief, or self improvement.

I don't want to leave here. I have 9 blessed days left before I do. But I know I'll have to, and that's okay. I've gained the perspective I've needed, to improve my life, to improve the world. Perhaps it's because I wanted this trip to change me that it has. I think desire is part of it. I also believe it's because I've been willing to work hard, humble myself, and simply put others needs first. I've seen all of these firsthand help me reach the serenity I feel now. And I'm grateful.

I'm not yet at a  Superman physique, nor am I a certified scholar, or an inspiring artist, but I do have perspective, I feel confident I can and will be all those things.  My friend Apryl shared  a quote from Steve Jobs on facebook the other day that said "The ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world are the ones who do".  I believe it, and I intend to. Nothing and no one can stop me but myself. And I won't, because I believe in me.

(Yeah consider me a cliché guy, but it needs to be said, in order to happen)

(My Dominican/HEFY brothers)

*(Said in the voice of "Penelope", a Kristin Wiig sketch from SNL)


  1. Thank you Bryan. You're changing so many lives for the better, not only through your words but by your actions for sure. Keep it up!

  2. Brian! I miss you, man! I was thinking about you and wondering how the DR is going for you. Thinking back on our talks, I'm thrilled for you and how the trip is helping you. I also slightly jealous ;) I can't wait to see you again asap, bro!