2017 Intern Testimonies
Each summer, HCO sends a small group of interns to our campus in Peredo to help host teams, serve wherever needed, and learn a lot about the Haitian culture and HCO’s ministry. Our Summer 2017 Interns were Larissa Blevins, Hannah Galehouse, Andrea Larson, and Lizzy Smith, and they did a great job! As they came back to the States, we asked them to share something about their summer. If you came on a trip this summer or are thinking about applying to become an intern, you’ll be interested in hearing about their experiences. We hope you enjoy their stories as much as we did!
Summer 2018 internship applications are being accepted until Sunday, October 15, 2017!
Larissa Blevins, Lead Intern
This summer was the kind of summer that I never want to forget and that I will always cherish. I wanted to take everything day-by-day and not take one moment for granted. My personal goal was to dive head first into whatever opportunities crossed my path. I ate foods that I normally wouldn’t have, I picked up a lot of Creole, and I did things I might have been to scared or nervous to do before. I thought to myself: “When am I ever going to have this exact opportunity? Why not do it now?” Each day provided opportunities I never dreamed of, but that I’m so glad I had. And my time in Haiti allowed me to build deep and meaningful relationships with the people I saw daily, which increased my thirst for wanting to learn more of their language.
I enjoyed playing cards and joking around with Belizaire, whom we called Grandpa, every night. When Dr. Jackie would join us, our games would be filled with serious conversation, smack talk, and laughter as we enjoyed a card game. He also helped me follow along in church by telling me the passage Pastor Jacquelin was teaching from. I loved getting to see the smiles on Elvina’s and Ena’s faces when we would do our little chant to show our appreciation for them. I enjoyed sharing the hunger of wanting to learn each other’s languages with Chrisne. I appreciate Onys’s willingness and patience to teach me Creole, to help me by quizzing me, and to include me in conversations when I could semi-understand some words they were saying. I always looked forward to spending time with Jimmy and having our nightly talks with popcorn. We’d talk about anything you could imagine, from real, deep meaningful conversations to telling funny stories and jokes. And I was overwhelmed with the love and the joy I received from “The Boys” on campus.
Whether you want to go on a short mission trip or a missionary internship, my advice for you is simple:
- have no expectations
- make no comparisons, whether you are coming to Haiti or somewhere else
When you have expectations, it can sometimes block you from seeing what God has planned. I feel like I see God’s handiwork in situations where there are no plans or when plans fall apart at the last minute. God uses people to fulfill what he really wants to happen, and in the end you see that he has everyone there in that particular moment, with the proper resources, using their gifts to glorify Him and help fulfill His plan.
Persevere at all times. There is going to be conflict. I know this may be a shock to you, but not everyone thinks the same thing and the same way you do. Communication is key, especially the kind where you express your thoughts and feelings in a caring, thoughtful, and respectful way. Put yourself in their shoes. You most likely will not get along with or enjoy being in every single person’s company that you come across. But, even if you are not necessarily a fan of a person, you still need to engage with them. Who knows? They may surprise you! At times, you might feel like you can’t do this and that you are doing a bad job. My advice is each day try to do better than you did the day before.
When you compare your current experience with past trips, you may feel disappointed with the experience, whether past or present. You are never going to experience the exact same thing, in the same exact way, and that is okay! That’s life! That means you are always changing and growing, and so is the place you visit! New trips bring new experiences and new outlooks.
Was this summer always easy? No. Did I always know exactly what to do or know the correct answer to every question? No. Would I do it all over again? Absolutely! I didn’t always have all the answers, but I learned to deal with that. I learned to say, “Good question! I don’t know, but I will try to find out for you!”
If you want to be an intern, don’t let the fear of not knowing what to do scare you from applying. Sometimes “not knowing” provides you with wonderful opportunities to learn something new! But be ready because you won’t know what to do in every situation. All you can ever do is try your best, make the best judgments you can, and roll with things as they come. Be the best you can be, don’t get caught up in comparisons to others, and always remember that the work you’re doing isn’t for yourself. You’re working so that others may see God and all his glory!
Hannah Galehouse, Intern
I will never forget the time I spent in Haiti this past summer. I created so many new friendships with Americans and Haitians alike. I grew close to the other interns, closer than I am with people I have known for years. I was able to see and experience Haiti in a way that you don’t get during a week-long trip. I listened to stories and heard testimonies from people from all different walks of life. We painted, and painted some more, but most importantly, we built relationships that will be a part of us forever.
Living in Haiti for two months is not something you can forget, but this summer, I noticed myself “forgetting.” I forgot to look around and appreciate the creation that we were blessed to be a part of everyday. I forgot to watch the sunrise every morning, and I forgot look up at the stars every night. I forgot that time with my Haitian friends was limited, and I did not always take full advantage of our time together. Most of all, I forgot to just be still. Very quickly, living in Haiti became my normal, which made it that much easier to forget to appreciate every single moment, good or bad.
Before my internship started, I had an idea in my head of what the experience would be like. It was, for the most part, everything I had imagined. It was wonderful and eye-opening and beautiful, and I witnessed God work in so many ways. That is all great, but I did not take into consideration how draining, demanding, and stressful it would be at times. I would like to say that I never let those factors hinder my experience, but that is not the case. There were times that I let my worries and frustrations get in the way of God. It is so easy to get wrapped up in all the “things” going on around you, and even back at home, that seem to matter so much in that moment. It is so easy to fall into that trap and forget.
Coming home, it has been difficult to feel “okay,” especially when the only people who understand live 6+ hours away. It has become a challenge to relate with people in the same way that I used to, and I don’t always know how to deal with those feelings. When I feel those things and am struggling to push forward, I remember my summer in Haiti. It is hard to be away from the friends that I made, but I have memories to hold on to. I have learned to turn to God, rather than running away from my fears and doubts.
Haiti alone will not change who you are. It is what you do with what you learned about God and His people while being in Haiti that can change you. To anyone going on a short-term trip or wanting to be an intern, I urge you to take advantage of every moment – not just the good ones or the obvious ones. When you wake up, go outside and look around. Really look around and take in the creation. Play with the kids at every chance you get and build relationships with them. Get up early and watch the sun rise and walk up the hill at least once to watch the sunset. Do not let stress and anxiety get in the way of God and what He is trying to show you. Seek Him out when you are unsure and scared. Trust Him and remember who He is. Do not leave your experience in Haiti. Take it home with you and share what God has done. Use it to further the Kingdom and to grow in your own faith and walk with God. Love on Haiti and have so much fun, but do not forget to stop and look around.
Take time to be still and do not forget to remember.
Lizzy Smith, Intern
One of the hardest questions to answer in regards to my summer is simply: “So tell me about your summer! How was it?” I mean, how do I – in the few seconds that I have to think about my answer before the silence gets too awkward – answer such a broad question? That’s two and-a-half months we’re talking about! I usually start my answer off with: “Oh, it was incredible. I learned so much and left a piece of my heart there.” And I don’t typically go into much further detail unless the person asking has longer than five minutes to talk. So, when we were asked to write a blog post about our summer, my head went to same place it goes when people say, “So tell me about your summer!” Where do I begin?
One of the truths I was quickly greeted with was that Haiti has a way of becoming a home for your heart. As I got to know the culture, the language, the views, and the people, I fell in love with it all, and it was easy to start calling it home. You could see God woven through HCO and through Haiti in general, and in the same way that the Holy Spirit resides in me, my heart resided in Haiti.
Another aspect that I quickly fell in love with was the children. Whether it was kids that we got to pour into everyday on campus or all of the different little ones yelling “BLAN!!” (white) that we saw when we walked to the river, they all left their imprint on me and will forever linger in my memories of this summer. Children are a passion of mine and getting to be with Haitian kids everyday helped fill my heart and kept me going when the days were less than perfect.
I won’t be the first person to tell you that living in Haiti is hard, but the joys overshadowed the pains. As the number of days behind me increased to more than the number of days I had the left in front of me, the knowledge of having to say goodbye became more a reality. Leaving Peredo and knowing that I may not come back was one of the hardest things that I’ve had to do. We didn’t get to say goodbye to every person that we got to say hello to, and I knew that I was re-entering into a whole different world back home. Haiti had become my normal, and I knew that I was entering back into everyone else’s normal – feeling quite out of place. Being home has been different. There were things that I missed that I’m glad to have back, but I miss Haiti every day. God is so awesome, and the same big God that I served in Haiti I serve here in America.