“What are your dreams for your future?” (I asked a little girl in Honduras)

“I want to be happy… that’s all. Oh, and I want a pink bicycle.”

When you see the looks on the faces of these poverty-stricken children, the last thing you will think of is poverty. Your immediate thought will be, “I cannot believe how happy these children are… these children who have nothing.”

Materially, these poor families that I came across in Honduras had practically nothing besides the shirt on their back. But realistically, they had everything they needed.

They had love, they had happiness, and they had a hunger for a better life. I do not want to be naïve to the fact that many people do not have anyone to call family, nor do they have food, or shelter, and some are not actually happy with their lives at all. But right now I want to highlight those people who do not having anything, by American standards, and still have unexplainable joy.

In our culture, we are so used to seeking out things that will satisfy us; something that will fill us up and make us feel whole. We continue to look for something, anything, to give us the feeling of happiness or the satisfaction of having something in our possession. We search and we search and we search, and often times, we come up empty-handed. Because what we are searching for is something we cannot buy.

What is it that these families in Honduras and all other developing countries have that we do not? And can someone tell us where to get it? How is it that people in one of the poorest countries in the world can make do with what they have (which is next to nothing), and most of us, who have the resources and capability to attain or achieve everything, do not know how?

It was these kids and their families in small, poor villages this summer that inspired me to live like I have nothing, and in return gain everything. I am no master at this of course with the pulls and temptations of the world all around me and in our society, but for now, my perspective is changed.

I want to live simple. I want to make use of all the resources I already have, and not feel the need to search for satisfaction elsewhere. I believe that if we celebrate what we do have, instead of focusing on what we “need,” our lives will be more simplistic and in effect, more fulfilling. In my opinion, happiness is what fills us up temporarily and it is what we constantly are yearning for.

But joy is that same happiness feeling sustaining in us for a long period of time. Joy is something that does not come and go. And when we find joy in our lives, it is there to stay. It is not fleeting, nor is it artificial.

I hope that we can all go forward in our search for our permanent joy. The journey is painful, but the journey is also beautiful. Our journey may take us to a third world country to see the everlasting joy living in the simple lives of those materialistically impoverished in order to have a changed perspective. Or who knows, you may have been on this journey for longer than most, and it led you to reading a newspaper article written by a 17-year-old high-schooler.

• Colleen Henderson, 17, is a senior at Desert Vista High School in Ahwatukee. She spent five weeks in Honduras this summer. This is the final in a two-part series about her trip.

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