I am Brandon Ashton, a Pastoral Ministry major and a freshman at the University of Dallas, and my life was changed by Alternative Spring Break. There were two groups this year, one going to New Orleans, and the other going to Kansas City. I was blessed to be chosen to go to New Orleans with a fantastic group of people.
Being from Arizona, I do not have much experience with natural disasters, since Arizona does not get much in the way of tornadoes, hurricanes, or earthquakes. When I went to New Orleans, I was amazed and humbled by the state of some places; there was still damage from Hurricane Katarina, as well as more recent damage from Hurricane Isaac. I was especially moved by the reality that these people's homes had been destroyed by storms, and when they try to rebuild their lives, that work could be washed away in an instant.
The trip helped me to take a new outlook on life. We went to an exhibit on Pope John
Paul II's visit to New Orleans at the New Orleans Museum of Art, and in the museum,
there was a life-size crucifix. Walking by it, I felt like one of the Jews in Jesus'
time, walking by Him on the cross, and it made me wonder: "What would I do if I saw
Him up there with the other prisoners? Would I mock Him? Would I help Him? Or would
I just ignore Him?" I would like to think that I would do the second option, but reflecting
on my life, that may not be the case. In Matthew 25:34-40, Jesus talks about serving
Him through the least of our brethren. When we reflect on this in regards to our daily
lives, we start asking questions. How often do I just ignore that homeless person
on the side of the road, not even waving hello? How often do I ignore inmate workers?
How often could my act of charity toward them, manifested in a smile or a kind word,
change their day? I realized how much we tend to ignore those who fortune has overlooked.
Sure, some of us may volunteer at soup kitchens or at Saint Vincent de Paul, which
is honorable and impressive, but how many of us will stop in our normal day to say
hello to "these least brothers" (Matthew, 25:40)?
The Alternative Spring Break trip to New Orleans changed my outlook on life. It brought me down from the pedestal I had placed myself on, and humbled me. I would recommend this experience to anyone who can go. I became closer to my amazing group of friends who accompanied me, and most importantly, I became closer to God, who forever walks with me.
When I first heard about Alternative Spring Break, I was so excited to find out that it was a mission trip. I've always wanted to go on a mission trip, but never found the right time or the right group to go with. When I found out about ASB, I was not hesitant in applying. I've never done anything productive during my spring break, so I thought to myself "why not?" I am so thankful and blessed that I had the opportunity to go on ASB, to go and do Christ's work. ASB has given me a new view on life and has given me many ideas on how to serve the least in our midst. This trip has truly shown me how easy it is to help others. Many people tend to think that to help others is by giving or fixing their home and feeding them. Yes, they do need a shelter and nourishment, but they also need to know that they are loved. ASB taught me how creating a bond or friendship with someone can help restore one's faith in Christ and their humanity. The people we met with or worked with are a true inspiration to me because they are so humble and base their purpose in life to work for the poor. Not only was I able to serve others, but I was able to grow closer to my ASB group. The memories that were made during my ASB trip are precious memories that I will never forget. Overall, I enjoyed my ASB trip and would not have traded it for going to the beach or catching up on my sleep. I will look back on this and will never regret this once-in-a-lifetime experience. It was a spring break that was well spent.