Although I’m sure most of us won’t admit to it, it’s easy to feel on top of the world being home in the United States.

A body of water in the Atlantic Rainforest

Many of us live life with problems few and far between and often take this blessing for granted.  However, I guarantee that if you take anyone and place them in a country unlike their own and push their comfort zone, they will find themselves in the same spot I have come to find myself – an uncomfortable, eye-opening spot in which one realizes how truly insignificant they are in the grand scheme of things.

You may be thinking “insignificant” seems a little harsh, but it’s the best word I can find to describe my feelings about the activities over the past few days.  Going to the Atlantic Rainforest on Thursday proved to be a very awe-inspiring trip for all of us.  Although it isn’t exactly what we all pictured a rainforest to be, it still exceeded my expectations.  Being present, and I mean truly present, in such a vast, natural paradise certainly put my senses and my attention to detail to the ultimate test.  Once I started tuning in to all the minute details of that seemingly infinite forest, it came to my attention that I was just a mere, microscopic speck in relation to the entirety of this universe.

If you look closely at the trail of green specs across the middle of the image, there are leafcutter ants there!

At first, it was somewhat upsetting to realize that even the ants we had seen trekking across the trail carrying leaves on their backs had more of a purpose than I.  However, as I mulled over my own tiny existence in this massive ecosystem I realized that I have yet to reach my true purpose as I trek along my own trail on the search for this purpose in life.  Though I may at times carry more, or less, than those little ants on a mission to feed their colony, I am still working to serve God in whichever way I am called.


Lastly, as we exited the rainforest and headed back to our host families, I felt a tinge of guilt and – again – insignificance while driving past the favelas of Sao Paulo.  The masses of colorful, broken houses bordering with rich, elaborate skyscrapers created a formidable wall of concrete.  It was beautiful in it’s own eccentric way and brought about conflicting feelings in me.

Favelas in the distance, alongside modern skyscrapers

Although I can’t say how many people inhabited those areas and whether or not they were happy with the lives they had been given, the contrast between the simple favelas and elaborate skyscrapers made me reconsider the perception I had of my life before coming to Brazil and wonder where those contrasts and what they represent might exist in my community.  Although I do feel somewhat insignificant when it comes to looking for ways to help those around me both home and abroad, I don’t think insignificant is the word I’m looking for after all.  In fact, I think the word is a simple one.  Small.


Small is a word all of us understand, though we may not use it often or think about it often.  Something can be small and yet very significant, or something may be small and not significant whatsoever.  A small object can be moving forward, stagnant, or moving backward; it may be God’s work of nature, or it may be the product of mankind creating, experimenting, or destroying.  Either way, we are small in comparison to all of God’s creation, and don’t play as big a part in this world as we might hope… –unless of course, we work together like the carpenter ants carrying leaves, numbering in the thousands, to their home.

Categories: Brazil 2018

1 Comment

Rebekah Distaffen · May 21, 2018 at 2:09 am

Heather, this is beautiful <3 It is an amazingly humbling experience to think about how small we are, and how insignificant that may make us. But the beautiful thing is, we are not insignificant. God made each of us, as He made each of the ants, for a purpose. And when we think about that, it is so incredible to think how amazingly powerful that makes our God. And because God is so powerful, we are able to do anything we could ever dream with Him– and that's not insignificant as all. Small, but not insignificant– beautifully said. Thanks for sharing 🙂

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