My experience serving abroad, in Brazil, began as most experiences begin, with uncertainties, fears, and doubts. We may romanticize going abroad on an adventure but when it comes down to it, many choose not to go. Among my friends and family, going abroad to do volunteer work was not the most popular idea, so right away there was a push against it. Making the decision to go abroad was perhaps the most difficult part for me. Looking at the checklist of requirements for the trip, including the paperwork, visa, costs, and vaccinations were almost enough to persuade me in a different direction. However, once I made my decision to go abroad as a volunteer, things seemed to just flow.
My time in Brazil had its ups and downs, of course. There were times when I questioned whether I made the correct decision by coming or wondered why I was going through certain difficulties when I could have been in the comfort of my home country. I would sometimes look at the map and find it so odd that I was in a location so far from my home location. Although I learned some Portuguese as time went on, there were many times when I felt frustrated because I could not communicate fluently enough with other people.
Despite the difficulties, I found that God helped me to serve in important ways. Not only was I able to help others, but this experience also aided my growth in many ways. I found it very insightful, for example, to view the world from within a different perspective. It helped me to see that the world was so much more than just the bubble I lived in.
It was hard for me at times to push through my doubts before my service and even sometimes while I was serving, but I am so glad that I decided to go. Making the decision is the hardest, but at times, a leap of faith is all we need.