An interview with volunteer Austin Burke
Editor's note: Usually international volunteers submit articles of a story or describe their experience. Austin decided to answer some questions! We hope you enjoy this look into missionary life. Be on the lookout for the rest of the year for ways to uplift our fellow students in their service. If interested in applying to be an international volunteer, stop by the Campus Ministries office ASAP.
Why did you decide to be a student missionary?
My relationship with Jesus was stagnant, and I wanted to put myself into a situation where I would need and want to trust in solely Jesus. I thought being a missionary would be easy. Now I know I was completely wrong. This is the hardest thing I've done. I also absolutely adore kids; most have no care in the world, they just want to enjoy themselves. The last reason was I really wanted to learn Spanish. Putting myself into a Spanish-speaking country where few speak English has forced me to try (tratar in español) to learn the language, which is exactly what I needed. It's been a rough journey but I'll continue to improve!
Can you describe an inspiring experience of your work during your time so far?
An inspiring experience has been finally feeling like a part of the family I'm living with. I live with nine kids in a big house along with Raquel and Isidro, the married couple who are their caretakers, but everyone calls them Mama and Papa. The first week or two I felt really disconnected. One morning one of my kids asked me to be apart of worship. I didn't understand anything Isidro said, but that's okay because I was finally included! I started making food for dinner and helping with homework. Every day Casa Banks feels more like home.
What do you enjoy most of the country you're in so far?
Every week day I work in the kitchen at the school and we make snacks for the kids to buy during recess, which includes making juice that they can buy. We take the fruit, cut it up perfectly, put it in the blender, strain it, water it down and put sugar in it. Muy rico (so yummy).
I also enjoy the people. Most of these people live in small concrete houses with gates, bars on the windows, and locks. Sometimes they have electricity and sometimes they don't. These hondureños don't have as many places to go or as many things to do but they don't complain. They find fun things to do. We play soccer a lot, and the kids really get into it. It's so true that having lots of stuff doesn't mean you're happy. Lots of people here don't have much compared to people in the U.S. but they’re more happy with what they have. I'm blessed.
Any advice you have for students considering becoming a student missionary for a year? You can do this. I think anyone can do what I'm doing right now, but it's not gonna be easy and it won't be fun at times. One of the best parts of this experience is looking back at where I was when I first arrived.
Be ready to leave a lot behind. Being a missionary is sorta like what Jesus did during his ministry. He didn't have much, went out and loved people. Don't think you'll be comfortable. It's going to be uncomfortable. Uncomfortability grows character and tests your endurance so be thankful for it when you do experience it!
Austin Burke is an international volunteer in Honduras.