This past summer, I was blessed with an internship on the beautiful island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas. I worked with Bahamas Methodist Habitat, who travels between all the Bahamian Islands to help with mitigation, or preparedness for hurricanes, so that when a hurricane hits the damage isn’t as horrible. For 5 weeks, spanning from May through July, I worked with the nonprofit doing paperwork, helping at a vacation bible school, and reconstructing roofs. It was an amazing experience that still has me thinking about it months later.
I found this internship through my church back home. We had gone the summer before on an international trip, and I had fallen in love with the people and the island. When the opportunity to apply for the internship came up, I knew it was something I had to apply for. Something (probably God) told me I had to go back, that my work over there wasn’t done. And it was true; He still had plans for me.
This was the second time I ever left the country. The first time was only a week long and I was with two of my youth leaders. This time, it was for five weeks. I had a couple of people from my home church, which helped ease my anxiety about the trip, but otherwise I had to be my own adult. Preparing for the trip and adulting on my own helped me do some maturing that I didn’t know I needed to do.
While I had two people from my home church, I was with six people I had never met before. Not only were we working together, but we had to learn to live with each other. This proved to be a struggle, but we also learned from each other. We were all at different stages of our faith and had different stories to share, allowing us to help each other grow.
Interacting with the groups that came through also helped me learn more about myself. As interns, we were constantly surrounded by people, whether we were in our rooms or in the bathroom. I learned how to interact with people when I was socially drained, but also how to distribute my energy so I could last until I was alone again. Most people just go on and on, but don’t take time to recoup, and that just adds to the stress. It was an important thing to learn, which I’m glad I did.
Not only did I learn about myself, but I learned more about this different culture. I met many people who had wisdom beyond my years, even beyond their years. No matter how little they had, they always found a way to give back to us volunteers. Whether it was spending an hour talking or playing the guitar with us, or making everyone a snack, they made it known they were grateful to have us there with them. It makes you really think about what you do have, and what you can do to give back to those around you. It was something I needed to see, and I’m grateful for the chance to have experienced it again.
So next time you’re contemplating doing something you aren’t sure about, dive in. It will probably be scary, and half the time you won’t know what’s happening, but it will be worth it in the end. God has a plan for you, just trust him and things will work out.
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” -Jeremiah 29:11
The Bahamas were hit hard after Hurricane Dorian on Sept. 1. Many people were left with only the clothes on their backs and the people in their arms. If you feel called to it, donate what you can to one of the many places taking donations. Bahamas Methodist Habitat is always looking for volunteers as well. The people will be thankful for whatever you can give.