During my three months in Zambia, there were moments where I felt like I had stepped into a dream or National Geographic Magazine and other times I felt small and useless on this big continent. I feel that way in my own country and culture at times: asking myself how can I help with such a big need or where do I start? Going on this program was a gift and such a learning experience. This was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to spend a semester with 21 other people in three different countries learning and experiencing different cultures. My semester abroad gave me a clearer understanding that every day and struggle is a gift from God, which brings us closer to Him.
I saw the beauty and benefits of a community within cultures domestically and internationally. Spending everyday with the same group of people is wonderful and challenging. It makes you grateful to have such a community that is always there for you while seeing your flaws and bad days. The community aspect of HIZ built my strength of working with a group of people and brought light to my weaknesses. I realized one of my weaknesses is not having enough faith in myself and my ideas. However, with the help of the group, I learned that Christ has called me to lead humbly in order to bring Him glory and to encourage others to be leaders. A community will help you understand the good attributes of yourself and show you where you can improve; and sometimes that is a scary place to be in. I tell you this because it made me want to be in community of people who are honest with me and who challenge me daily. When I arrived back in the States, I desired this community aspect in my life. I met with friends and mentors who have invested in my life. They listened to my stories with love and helped me process where I should go from here.
While I was in Zambia I did not find myself or my purpose, instead I found my flaws, strengths and a community of strong believers. Today, I look back at my time in Zambia as a growing experience where I learned to love deeper, be thankful for the blessings God has given me and to see friendships and people as precious gifts. I see the world around me as a community, where I learn more about myself and how I can be a better part of society.
Written by Abbygale Garrison
For more information about Harding In Zambia visit our website: www.harding.edu/international