Through the Eyes of a New Volunteer

A day in the life of an Amigos volunteer varies from person to person. Whether it be your unique job or personality, no day looks the same to each person. My name is Rachel Youngberg, and I am one of the newest volunteers here at Amigos de Jesús. Primarily, you can find me in the classroom teaching three different levels of EducaTodos (an accelerated program for children that are in need of individualized attention), or in the library working as the librarian. I am completely in love with my life and the work that I am doing, but that doesn't mean I am left without daily challenges as I try to adapt to Honduras and its cultural differences. If you're curious about what I mean, here is a glimpse at a "normal" day for me here at ADJ: 

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6:00 AM (Wake-up)

Ok, here we go, let’s get this day started! I’m ready for a great day! Take all that I have, Lord, and make me the best servant I can be. 

6:15 AM (Shower)

Alright, Rachel. You can do this. Just throw the bucket of cold water on your head. Stop thinking about it, just do it.

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7:00 AM (School)

What time does school start again? 7:10? 7:15? Shoot...I’d better get going. Am I supposed to help with the school presentation today? Who do I talk to about that?

8:00 AM (Planning Period)

Ok, let’s finish up planning these classes. I hope the kids like what we’re doing, yesterday they hated it. But today is a new day! Today I will make the best lessons ever!

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11:30 AM (End of Morning Classes)

Well at least one of my classes enjoyed what we did…I think John liked it a little, after he stopped complaining and actually tried the activity…Tomorrow is a new day. Tomorrow I will try again.

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12:00 PM (Lunch)

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What’s for lunch? Oh man, I hope my body doesn’t reject the food today. Well, I’ll just eat as much as I can. I can’t wait for the day my body adjusts to this new diet!

Who should I sit with? I wish I could just sit in the office by myself. The kids wouldn’t notice, right?

What form of the verb 'estar' do I use to ask “How was your day?” Maybe I just won’t ask.

12:30 PM (Recess Duty)

Ah, they are so cute when they get along! Dang…will I have time to go to the bathroom before my next class?

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1:00 PM (Pila/Hand Washing Clothes)

I’ll never take a washer and dryer for granted again! Phew, does this count as my arm workout for the day? Who knew scrubbing clothes could make you so sore!

4:00 PM (Play Time)

Ok, everyone is going out with the kids. I should go out too.

Yikes, this part makes me so nervous! What do I do with them? Should I just walk up to someone and try to start talking? Why would they want to play with me?

Ok, you’re out with the kids. Good job! Just walk around until someone talks to you. Uh oh…what did that 'madrina' just say? Is she talking to me? Shoot, I have no idea what she’s saying, my Spanish isn’t good enough! Just smile and say, “Si.”

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Thank goodness the girls from 'hogar' 1 and 2 wanted to dance Zumba with me. That was pretty fun! Why do I get so nervous every time?

5:30 (Dinner)

Oh dear, it’s the same thing for dinner again tonight. Beans, 1 egg, 2 tortillas, cheese, and 'mantequilla'. You don’t have to eat all of the 'mantequilla', Rachel, but at least try a little more! You’ll like it one day!

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6:00 (Play Time)

Ok, more play time. I bet someone will grab me to play in a minute. Hmm...maybe I’ll just walk around the circle one more time…well, I tried! I guess I’ll just head back to the house for the rest of the night.


Each day is different, and each day has its own unique challenges and blessings, but these are some of the thoughts I would have during a typical day throughout my first few weeks here at Amigos.

Anyone who knows anything about Amigos de Jesús knows that this is an amazing place. You come here having heard all of the facts about how this organization helps children who have been abused, abandoned, and neglected. You know that they center everything around their Catholic faith and hope in Jesus Christ. You understand that they are making a real difference in this world, and can’t wait to be a part of it! What you don’t realize, or at least what I didn’t realize, was that I was about to walk into a family.

Imagine walking through the doors of a home you’ve never been to and saying, “Hello! Here I am! I’m ready to help you and I’m ready for you to accept me for my skills as well as my lack of knowledge about your culture and language!” Needless to say, my first few weeks left me feeling quite awkward and shy most of the time. However, these feelings had nothing to do with the way anyone here treated me. I have been completely welcomed by everyone with open arms. It’s my own insecurities and doubts that get in the way of me accepting and holding onto the love I am being given by those around me.

Every new place we go in life, there’s a period of adjustment that has to happen. When moving to Honduras to live in a children’s home for the first time, this adjustment period looks a bit different than moving to a different town or going through your first few weeks of college. Nonetheless, we repeat the same steps: Get up, get ready, struggle through the day, take a deep breath, thank God, and go to sleep to start it all over again. Before you know it, the struggles become less and less. The joy and love that we are given never weakens, but our capacity to accept it with ease grows more each day.

I’ve been here at Amigos de Jesús for just over 3 months now, and I’m amazed at the amount of joy my heart is able to receive. Thank you, ADJ, for accepting me as I am, while still molding me into a person that is capable of greater love. I am thankful for all of the ways I have already been challenged to grow and change, even if it is still hard for me to throw a bucket of cold water on my head each morning!

 

- Rachel Youngberg, 2017-2018 ADJ Volunteer