Since I was a little girl, I have always dreamt of being an international missionary. I have always loved meeting new people and learning about new cultures. Even now, as I am entering my senior year of the social work program, I feel that the Lord may intertwine international missions with my future career. However, through all the years of studying world cultures and dreaming of the places the Lord may take me, I never once thought that He would bring me to serve in Hungary.
The past two summers, I have had the privilege of traveling to Word of Life Bible Institute in Tóalmás, Hungary, with a team of students from Global Outreach. Word of Life runs a summer camp for local youth, and our teams had the privilege of serving as volunteer staff to support the full-time staff at the camp. This year, I traveled with two other social work majors while we served at the camp for two weeks. Word of Life is an amazing place, and I learned so much during my time there.
Day to Day
Thankfully, we were able to establish a daily routine very quickly. On Sundays, we would welcome the campers by helping with English placement tests; these tests were designed to help us form classes based on English proficiency. Then, we enjoyed an outside dinner with the campers. This was followed by an evening meeting, where the whole camp would gather together to worship and hear the Gospel. These meetings were usually followed by a whole camp competition called the Big Game. Starting Monday morning, this was our daily routine:
- Wake up early and join the campers for breakfast
- Have our first English lesson of the day and prepare for the next day
- Eat lunch, which was always a wild time with singing and sometimes dancing
- Help with housekeeping around the property
- Hold our afternoon English class full of games
- Eat dinner
- Spend time with the campers and watch their Big Game
- Attend evening meetings with worship and a sermon
Though we developed a clear routine, there were so many special moments that made each day unique and memorable. For example, one of our friends was able to take us to the store to buy some Hungarian snacks (if you ever travel to Hungary, I recommend trying Túró Rudi). On another day, we were included in a birthday celebration for one of the students from the Bible Institute. Our group even asked to ride in the camp truck with the music blaring, which was such a random and special memory. We taught some of our English students some classic dances – the “Cha Cha Slide,” “Cotton-Eyed Joe,” and “The Cupid Shuffle.” We even got to spend a day touring the capital city of Budapest; it was so amazing walking through the history of this beautiful city. Each day was so full of laughter and smiles, it is difficult to summarize it all.
Without a Word
The Lord taught me so much through this experience, I could write an entire pamphlet describing it all. The main thing I learned came from some of the sweetest and subtlest moments of the trip. There were several times that a camper would approach one of us and hug us unexpectedly; some of them were in our English classes, but others had never spoken to us before. In other instances, a camper would randomly walk over to us and try to start a conversation even though they do not speak hardly any English. Others would ask to take a picture with us, or they would ask for us to sign their camp-shirts. Some of our students even wanted to teach us words in Hungarian during our English lessons, and they even taught me how to count in Hungarian (my pronunciation is atrocious, but baby steps). I am forever grateful that they wanted to include me in these memories! These moments were so touching because they were so joyful and unexpected, but they were also sobering because they reminded me of the importance of integrity in my life (Tit. 2:7).
When serving at a camp in a foreign country, it could be easy to think that you are not making an impact … especially if you don’t speak the language. Personally, I was satisfied to serve in the background because my highest priority was supporting the full-time staff – this was my role, and I was happy to fulfill it. However, as the week progressed, I realized that the campers were watching my actions from a distance. They were watching to see who I was and if I could be trusted. A moment that meant nothing to me could have a significant impact on them. Even if we never had a conversation, they may be able to discern if I was living for myself or living for God.
This reminded me that everything I do should be done as unto the Lord (Col. 3:23). This could also be described by Cedarville’s core values – Love God, Love Others, Integrity in Conduct, and Excellence in Effort. There were moments when I was tired and exhausted, and it would have been easy for me to stop caring. I could have hidden behind the language barrier and given up. But I recognized that, even in these moments, I was given the opportunity to love God and love people. It may have been as simple as a smile, but it still spoke volumes about who I was there to serve (James 2:14-26). By showing up every morning and caring for the campers, it was a way for me to show them the love of Jesus… all without saying a word (Eph. 5:1-2).
His Hands and Feet
If you are ever given the opportunity to travel on a missions trip (I would 10/10 recommend going with a Global Outreach team), I hope that you remember that you are participating in the work of the Gospel. You may not get to share a Bible story on a stage or have a gospel conversation with an atheist. You may not even be given the opportunity to share your own testimony. But by whole-heartedly participating in the small moments, you are a living testimony to the joy of Christ dwelling within you (Matt. 5:16). That is why being the hands and feet of Jesus is so powerful – the work of the Kingdom is completed, even when no words are spoken.
- Majoring in Social Work
- Hometown: Colorado Springs, CO
- Coffee Order: Iced Chai Latte
- Favorite Bible Verse: 2 Timothy 1:7