I can’t even begin to tell you the countless times that I’ve heard the question, “What was the biggest thing you learned during your internship?” once I returned to the states. Talk about a tough question. I remember the first couple times that I heard it, thinking to myself that there was no way that I’d ever be able to really answer it fully with just one thing. But the other night as I scrolled through our internship’s hashtag on Instagram, (#internshipcdv) and looked at mine and the intern’s full journey in Lima from start to finish, I realized that I finally had my answer.
Let me just start off by telling you a little about myself. I’m one of those people that’s obsessed with planning and organizing, and as nerdy as it sounds, color coding may or may not be one of my favorite past times. Before I said, “yes” to the internship at Camino de Vida, I was a pre-med major who had spent the last four years in college preparing to eventually go into medicine so I could do medical missions someday. I didn’t just have a plan for the next couple years of my life constructed in my brain… it was more like I had a ten year plan all ready to go. I thought I knew exactly what my next steps would be, and exactly how I would accomplish my goals. But the truth is, all the plans I was making never felt quite right. There was always a little piece missing, but I could never figure out exactly what it was. But after taking a short-term trip to Peru and finding out about the internship, for the first time I felt a truly peaceful, passionate, and fulfilling draw toward something in my future that as many times as I tried to push off to the side and ignore, I couldn’t escape. So in spite of the plans that I had made, and the future that I had always pictured, I decided to say no to my brain for once, and say “yes” to what was in my heart. Fast forward three months, and there I was on a plane headed toward Lima, Peru, with really no concrete plan of what my life was going to look like even just for the next five months.
When I got to Lima, I felt like a wide-eyed little kid. Everything was so new and so exciting. Every tiny task (even just going to the grocery store) felt like an adventure. If you asked me, or any of the other interns, we would have told you that our lives felt like a dream. But eventually, the newness wore off, and the realization that “this is real, day-to-day life” started to set in. Pretty soon, sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic for sometimes hours on end, and constantly not being able to fully communicate what I needed to (Spanish is hard y’all) wasn’t so fun anymore. FaceTime sessions with friends back in the States started feeling a little more awkward and a little more distant, and to be completely honest… a lot of things about being a missionary that seemed so great suddenly weren’t. I found myself laughing a lot less, and stressing a lot more. But right around that time, Pastor Danny and Stephanie (future interns… I can’t even begin to put into words how blessed you are to be under their leadership) sat down with me, and challenged me to reevaluate where I was putting my trust, and to guard my joy. They challenged me to stand strong in the middle of what sometimes felt like chaos, and to truly celebrate life, in the good moments and the bad.
When I made the decision to truly, wholeheartedly follow their advice, I began to uncover the biggest lesson that I learned in Lima… I learned to laugh. I learned to laugh at myself when my brain couldn’t process the idea of speaking one more word of Spanish, I learned to laugh when the water in the shower suddenly turned off while there was still shampoo in my hair, I learned to laugh when I realized that all of the plans that I had made for my future before the internship were nothing that I wanted anymore.
“…she laughs without fear of the future.”
I’ve heard that verse a million times throughout my life, but I don’t know that I could have ever said that I truly owned it until now. When I look at my life today, and I see how faithful God has been through my shortcomings and my every failure and imperfection… how faithful He was to bring some of the best friendships into my life that I’ve ever had while I was in Peru, how faithful He was to provide every penny that I needed while I was there, how faithful He was to show me exactly what my next steps were supposed to be after the internship, there is truly no fear in me for what the future holds. Instead, there is laughter and joy, because I now realize more than I ever have before that His plans for us truly are far more than we could ever imagine, and though there are hard moments along the way, a journey walking with Him surrendered in the plan that He has for your life is truly the most beautiful one you’ll ever take.
So my advice to you if you’re considering this internship is this: If God has put this internship on your heart, even if you’re feeling a little scared or a little unsure of what your future may hold if you say yes, take the leap of faith and do it. And laugh a whole lot along the way.
-Sydney Wright, Intern Fall 2015