Summer interns have assisted STCH Ministries International in the Dominican Republic (DR) for three years. This year, three college students lived at International’s DR base of operation inside Iglesia Bautista Quisequayana (IBQ), near the capital city of Santo Domingo from May-August. Amanda Longoria, Associate Director of International said the interns helped in many different ways. Their upbeat spirit and endless energy made the summer weeks go by without a hitch. They connected not only with the Dominican nationals but also with Americans traveling to the DR on mission trips. They offered comfort and accommodations to the needs of the groups. Summer interns served as the hands and feet of Jesus in the Dominican Republic.

Ashley understood God’s call on her life to vocational missions during a mission trip to Poland in 2017. This fall, she began to prepare by pursuing a Christian studies degree with a minor in missions at Ouachita Baptist University. Amanda remembers Ashley having the heart of a missionary with an infectious laugh and fun-loving spirit. During the summer of 2018, Ashley served one term as a summer intern and loved it so much she returned for the entire summer this year. Ashley helped train and offered comfort to the new interns. She helped them make friends and adjust to living in the Dominican Republic.

A few of the interns shared their experience in the DR and what they learned about themselves and God as they served. This is Ashley’s story, in her own words:

The biggest question to answer when I came home from being on mission for a summer was, “What did God teach you?” Every year it was the easiest question, yet the hardest question. While in the Dominican Republic, God taught me new things every day. I was constantly encouraged, loved and picked on (apparently that type of love is universal).

This summer the biggest lesson God placed on my heart was, though things get hard and I get tired, ministry never ends, whether that is at home in Texas (now Arkansas) or home in the Dominican. I learned you must be mission-minded wherever you are, you can’t shut that off when you get tired.

Leaving the Dominican Republic was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, and I miss it more and more every day. I miss the people, the joy, the laughs, the tears and the relationships. About six weeks into my eight-week internship, things got a little harder, I began to feel like I was home and Texas was no longer home to me. With this mindset, I had to begin to prepare myself to leave.

I started to pull myself away; I looked at negative things and thought more of the things I missed over the summer not being in Texas. The memories my friends were making and what I missed out on.

This mindset brought me to think less of my time and my mission and my focus turned away from God. I began to focus on how tired I was rather than the opportunity to serve that God had laid before me. For about four days I completely withdrew myself, not physically, but mentally from everything. I stopped focusing on the people around me that needed encouragement and stopped focusing on what God was showing me.

I was sitting at what I would call the “Wi-Fi table” when God gave a small bit of encouragement through another person. With those small words of encouragement, God showed me what I was doing and reminded me that my focus needed to remain on Him.

Although I was exhausted, my mission should never stop. I needed to stop relying on myself to push through this exhaustion and rely on God

After all, God did not place me in the Dominican Republic to sit around and pout. Just as God did not place me in Arkansas to sit around and pout. I learned a big lesson at a young age, ministry is hard, ministry is exhausting, but ministry never ceases. At times it seemed like there was no reward and I was wearing myself out, yet God reminded me that the reward is the hearts I have led to Jesus, the people I may only meet once, but will worship with forever. The reward is always Jesus.

If you are interested in serving as a summer intern, applications for summer 2020 are open now; those chosen will be notified in early 2020. Please see https://www.STCHM.org/international/summer-intern-application/  for more information.