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Summer Internship Testimony - C. McAdams

Caroline McAdams: Serving as a Foreign Missionary

Personally, deciding to serve as a missionary after graduating from college in May of 2023 was not a difficult decision. I knew that during my freshman year of college, the Lord was calling me to take time off from school to serve in some capacity. I was not sure where I was going to be sent. I looked at several different ministries several in Africa and one other in Guatemala. I feel extremely blessed the Lord chose me to serve alongside Hands of Hope International (HOHI).

I had never actually been away from my family and friends for very long. I had been to Guatemala twice before for short mission trips, but never for a couple of months. The time did not bother me. When I committed to serving with HOHI I did not fully grasp the weight of leaving my family and friends for an extended amount of time. I also most definitely did not account for spiritual battles that were going to be thrown my way. As the time to leave started to approach, I tried not to think or bring up the fact that I was leaving for the whole summer. I was very excited but also tried to suppress my thoughts and feelings of sadness. I knew I would be coming back, but it was still very hard to look at my loved ones and know I would not see them for a while. I honestly started to think about backing out of the trip, because of strong relationships at home. I fought thoughts of emailing HOHI and telling them I would not be able to come. However, I knew the Lord was calling me there and I could not ignore the calling. So, I packed what I thought I would need for the summer, which was way too much, and said goodbye to friends and family.

I try to not be an emotional person but at the airport, I couldn’t help but cry when I was saying goodbye for a little while. I flew to a foreign country to live and serve with people I knew but didn’t know very well. I never imagined the impact any of the people I would meet would have on my life. I was very nervous about what people would think of me and if I would even get along with them. But immediately I was taken in not only as part of the team but as a part of their family. I left Guatemala with more sisters than I left home with and brothers I had never had. I left with a confidence that I would have only found through this experience. The Lord showed me a side of myself that I did not believe existed.

We had the amazing opportunity to serve with many teams from the States. They were all unique in their own ways and sent for specific reasons. God used each individual person from the teams to make impactful moments during their short time with us. Watching the teams lead and serve was beautiful. They accomplished everything from building bunkbeds and houses to hosting amazing VBSs. They all worked so hard and accomplished so much.

"It was one of the best moments of my life."

The first team I was with was a special experience for me because I am interested in medicine. I got to help with a medical mission team, and whether they knew it or not they were an inspiration for me to pursue medical missions in the future. I’ll never forget the teams we hosted and all the work and love they poured into people I came to love so much. During our off weeks from teams, the HOHI team would serve in four villages. The first couple of times I went out on “regular” outreach days I observed and learned. I was extremely nervous to take over a role in their regular outreach. Erik and Amanda had mentioned that they wanted me to participate in every bible class they taught, and they wanted me to teach a women's class. I was hesitant but agreed. However, I had made up my mind that I would teach one women’s class and be done. Isn’t funny how the Lord always has different plans, especially when you’ve said no to something? I have never been good at speaking in front of anyone. I make every effort to avoid public speaking. I’ll never forget getting to teach my first class. It was one of the best moments of my life. I had prepared a lesson but the Holy Spirit took my words and ran with them. I was not nervous but instead fell in love with teaching the women’s devotional. I tried to take every opportunity I could find to help lead this class. I got the opportunity to meet some of the strongest women I’ve ever met in both of my women’s classes. They may never realize or know how they changed my life. My last time teaching I will never forget the tears and smiles I shared with them. I had also not realized the impact I had had on their lives until I saw genuine sadness on their face, but I reassured them I would be back. Because I will be back.

I was also given the opportunity to help homeschool a three-year-old little boy. I’ll never forget how nervous he was the first time he met me. He opened up to me as time went on and became this silly, fun-loving little boy. I don’t know much Spanish, but since he was 3 he made me feel really good about the Spanish I did know. In the same village, I got to meet some of the sweetest kids. We danced, laughed, and grew closer to Jesus altogether. Their want and desire to learn is something that amazed me. They wanted to learn more about Jesus than many adults do. I can still see their smiles and excitement when we would walk into the village. I got the amazing opportunity to help with and see how HOHI is pouring into education in another city. The connections and foundations they are building with these kids will impact them for the rest of their lives. I hope and pray they can continue to see the fruits of their labors at this school.

"All I can say is this, this summer was the best experience of my life and I am eternally grateful."

These people and this place will forever hold a place in my heart. There are very few days that go by that I do not think of them. I know I claimed to not be an emotional person, but I think I cried more near the end of my internship than I had in the last couple of years. It hurt so bad to leave these people, but I am thankful for that because it meant I truly fell in love with the place and people. The way they loved me and pursued Jesus every day was a blessing in my life. The Hands of Hope International team are some of the greatest people I have ever known, and they are family to me. I truly cannot wait to get back to them and serve alongside them again. The relationships and impacts they make on other people in the name of Jesus are inspiring. I could probably write a whole book about this summer and how I love these people, but I’ll spare you.

All I can say is this, this summer was the best experience of my life and I am eternally grateful. And of course, I will be back as soon as I can.

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