Written by Samantha Gale – 2010 – Trujillo, Peru
Beneath every unique species of animal, there is a unique framework of inner workings that determines the creature’s behaviors. Bats, which have notoriously horrible eyesight, use their own form of sonar to navigate the night at top speeds. A giraffe, which must drop its head below the level of its heart in order to drink, has an intricate pulmonary system in place to prevent too much blood from rushing to the head while it is lowered or from the head when it is raised. Even the cockroach is equipped with a hard exterior that could supposedly survive a nuclear attack.
Like these animals, the Inca Link interns are of a specific breed of human being with unique characteristics that make them who they are; and, like any organism, they rely on basic anatomy to work in symphony to sustain them.
I. The Cardiovascular System
The heart is the most notable of the life-sustaining organs. It pumps blood all over the body, ensuring that even the most remote limb receives the oxygen and nutrients necessary to function. It is the metronome of our existence; its beating ensures our survival.
For an Inca Link intern, the heart should be God’s Word. When the steady flow of Scripture permeates our being, we can function to our fullest fitness, exceeding expectations and fulfilling our soul’s purpose.
But, like anyone, sometimes we neglect our heart health. We don’t feed it the way we should. Our blood sugar drops; we grow weary and faint. When we lumber about like this, it becomes detrimental to even try to accomplish anything. When the heart is hungry, the best thing to do is feed it.
While I was in Peru, I learned the true importance of being consistently in God’s Word. Like someone living a sedentary lifestyle, it is easy to believe that your spiritual heart is healthy when you’re not exercising it. But when you are on the field, when you are being poured out constantly for the Kingdom, it is of the utmost importance that you are feeding your soul in Scripture and in prayer. If you neglect it, you will burn out quickly and grow either bitter or depressed. I have seen it happen. But if you meditate day and night on the truths of Scripture and hide God’s Word in your heart (as cheesy and Sunday-school-esque as that may sound), you will run farther and harder than you ever thought possible because of the sustenance that is the Word.
II. The Respiratory System
In. Out. In. Out. In. Out. The motion of the lungs is natural. Effortless. Thoughtless. But essential. The in and out are both absolutely necessary for life to sustain. If we try to inhale too much, we hyperventilate. If we simply exhale, our bodies will not receive the oxygen necessary to maintain our delicate system. And not just any old air will suffice; the presence of oxygen is required. The more, the better.
In the same way, we should be breathing in and out for each other. We must receive guidance from those around us. In. We must give guidance to those who seek it. Out. We need to receive encouragement from those around us. In. In turn, we should build other up. Out. It is a constant cycle of in and out, of receiving and giving.
The summer I interned with Inca Link, Abby Fish was my inhale. She was my accountability partner for the summer (we were all required to pair off for this purpose, and I do believe it made a huge difference for all of us those three months). We would meet at least once a week to talk about our struggles, our distractions, and our triumphs. Abby was always so encouraging to me, and I don’t know what I would have done without her support.
At the same time, I was able to form relationships with some of the girls who came down on the teams. I was able to speak guidance and encouragement into their lives because of the guidance and encouragement I was receiving and the heart sustenance I was getting from the Word.
III. The Nervous System
Imagine that you are standing on the bank of a river on a hot summer’s day. There is a rope swinging towards you, and you intend to grab it. You watch it closely, anticipating the perfect moment to grab one of the knots. Finally, it is just within your reach. You take hold, feeling the fibers of the interlaced cords scratching your hands as you grip the rope with all your might. You propel yourself up and out, abdomen flexed and knees hugged toward the chest as you sail past the trees and the bank and the rocks and out over the glassy surface of the water.
You hold tight until the absolute last moment, when the rope is extended as far as it can be. Then, you let go. For a moment, there is complete silence as you take your last, hurried inhale, plug your nose, and freefall briefly through the air.
Then, contact. First your toes, then your legs, and then your whole body is submersed in the frigid water. Your hair drifts gently downstream as you steady underwater, and your feet find placement on the sandy bottom. You feel the pebbles between your toes and you push upwards, searching for the surface. The air rushes back into your lungs as you emerge from the river with a huge smile on your face.
That was pretty much my first day back at school after my internship. I can remember it so clearly. I hadn’t seen any of my friends since I had gotten back due to family vacation, and my teenage sisters didn’t make for a very willing audience to gush to. My experiences were welling up inside of me, just waiting to be shared.
At the time, all of my friends attended the same campus ministry as I did, and we all hung out at the coffee shop on campus every day. There were enough of us that if you walked into the café at any given time, you were likely to find one of us there. And it was lunchtime, prime time for our little “third place.” I walked through the doors and saw my friends, and excitement swept over me. I started forming stories in my head, different ways of organizing my tales of triumph and tribulation.
I sat down at a table with a few smiles and “hello’s,” tentatively making eye contact with each of them and wondering who would finally ask me, “hey, Sam, what did you do this summer?”
Yes, someone had finally I asked me! I turned to my friend, also named Sam, and began to tell him all about the children I loved and the construction I didn’t. My excitement was only encouraged as he asked question after question about the food and the weather and the methods for pouring footers. I answered all of his questions enthusiastically, and when he left for class, I felt energized and optimistic. I had shared, and it had been well-received, and that made me euphoric.
That excitement, dear readers, is what separates the Inca Link intern from the average human being. As interns, we experience things, both beautiful and difficult, that shape who we are to our cores. We feel these things deep within us every day. And we want to share those things with you. In fact, we get so excited about the possibility of sharing them with you that you may actually want to set a time limit.
Our passion for our countries and our ministries drives us. It makes us excited about the mundane parts of life. We feel the effects of our time abroad months and even years after we return. Even if we have an entirely different career or extracurricular calendar, I can promise you that an Inca Link intern can and will, if you let him, talk your ear off about what God is doing in some part of Latin America. All we want is for you to feel it, too.