Missionary Training

Experiences in the DR: Loving the Discouraged and Restless

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Written by Lillian Hunsberger

Hey, I’m Caylor. I’ve come to realize one amazing truth: You are always able to make an impact on the lives of those around you. BGU sent me to the Dominican Republic for their Associates Degree and it ended up being an experience I will never forget.

It was our goal to touch those around us and those we came into contact with, one of the biggest impacts that we made was with the students at a Secondary High School. We would share stories with them and they would do the same in return. The stories were chilling at points; however, the most inspirational event was when we performed a drama for them.

There are always struggles that seem far too big for us to face and a little encouragement can be all that we need. If that is you today, I encourage you to watch the video below that corresponds to your gender. Imagine the impact this could make if this was the first time you heard these truths.

Above are the dramas that we completed. The only difference for us was that it was performed in their native language, Spanish. We assumed that it would make a small difference, but the impact that came from our small action was immense. The girls continually thanked us, and one even came up to us claiming that the drama helped her realize her importance, her value, and her worth.

There is always a large impact when God is at work in the small things. I was able to realize that truth through the trip and it has now shaped my life immensely.

This realization helped me to weather through culture shock while in a different country. Since being back in the states there have been multiple questions about culture shock, how it affected me, and essentially what it was. Everyone goes through it to some degree because you are leaving a culture that you have known your whole life, and stepping into a completely unknown world.

Though everyone is affected by culture shock, the influence of it can be different for each person. Personally, there was excitement for being in a new place, yet there also was an anxious spirit that filled me as to what was to come. This anxiety would cause me to close myself off from my teammates, and anyone around me.

As the time seemed to pass by quickly as my adventure in the DR continued. Every couple of days, anger would fill me for the situations that I would find myself in and were unable to change. As the time passed so did those feelings, and I think for me it was that I quit trying to measure up to those around me; I realized that I just needed to do the best I could with the abilities the Lord had given me.

There also was a decent amount of stress that came with being in a new culture, still surrounding myself with those from my time back in the states. It seemed like some of the issues from campus and home would follow me no matter where I trekked.

There was a multitude of differences that filled the culture, and at points, it seemed as if I had entered a different planet instead of simply going 2000 miles from home. Differences included the chaos that they called life, the way that people interacted upon first impressions, the structure of the church, and the sheer amount of times that they would attend different services.

No matter what feelings overcame me, I was aware of the idea that God was present through it all. A comforting verse would come to mind when life got too overwhelming: Psalm 46:1 which says “God is a refuge and strength; a present help in trouble.”

This verse always seemed to speak to me when I needed it most. Some of these times being when God shined His light into my life and showed me my fears and insecurities. One of the most major fears that I realized I had was the idea that I wouldn’t be successful on the mission field.

 

This fear came from trying to compare myself to those around me. There were certain peers who seemed to strive in every activity that we completed, however, there were times that I fought to maintain strength to complete the tasks. In time, God spoke to me and helped me realize that a willing heart was all that He required. My performance wasn’t being measured up against anyone else; He was just looking for me to continue to me His love, and His light to those around me.Once God showed me how He was at work in me, the adventure truly began. The amount of joy, hope, and faith that filled me caused the trip quickly to pass. It seemed like so much happened in such a short amount of time, and this caused the farewells to be bittersweet each time they were made.

One thing that made the goodbye a little easier is knowing that God worked in me, and believing that the same has happened with everyone I came in contact with.

It’s difficult to put into words everything that God did in order to make this trip a memorable one, yet looking back it’s becoming easier to see how He worked in through, and around me. It became extremely evident to me that God was constant. This trip was one of the best times of my life, however, it was also one of the most difficult situations that I found myself in.

One of the largest revelations that God helped me to realize is sometimes I am enough. It’s not the tasks that I complete or the jobs that I was able to do, sometimes it was just my presence that the people sought out most. It’s as if He was reflecting His desire for me to just come and sit with Him amongst the young children and women that I met in the DR.

God also showed me that His love goes beyond barriers that humans see as impossible. The language barrier, for example, we weren’t fluent in Spanish, and we were lucky if they knew any English, yet there were conversations that were had, laughter was shared, and memories were made. Love isn’t dependent on the knowledge that people have but the emotions that we share.

I gained a family while in the DR, and I fully intend to go back to see them.  Even more though, I can’t wait to see where God takes me in time, so that my “family” may grow more in time.

Though it came with trials, it left memories and an impact on my life. Missions are an amazing opportunity to grow with God and with yourself.

Passion grows when it takes a part of your heart and you allow it to run with it. During this trip, God showed me that my heart longs to help people and strives to serve them. Many people come out of mission trips on fire for God, and passion ablaze. Yet, so many people simply allow this fire to die.

I encourage you to see what passion(s) God has placed inside of you by going on a mission trip but don’t allow the passion to die. When we have a passion, there is a purpose that shows in our life, and when we have purpose it’s as if we are invincible.

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