This week’s encouraging story comes from Lindsay Stoltzfus, a student that has spent the last two years in the Global Bridge Program and then decided to continue her time with SI by becoming summer staff.
“I entered the Global Bridge program in the fall of 2020, and looking back now, two years later, choosing this program was one of the best decisions I could have made for myself. The journey started with the big move from small town Indiana to the Dominican Republic, where I shared a house with a group of fellow college students and worked in a poverty-stricken community in my beginner-level second language. I was nervous, but optimistic. Two years later, I finished this program nearly fluent in Spanish, more confident in my purpose in God’s kingdom, and with a fire in my heart for cross-cultural ministry.
Leaving my family and the small town where I had spent the previous eighteen years of life was a big leap of faith. But the frequent ache of loneliness and homesickness forced me to turn to God in ways I never had before. For the first time in my life, I had the space to face my deep emptiness and realize my desperate need for Christ. I began to hunger and thirst for Him, and to seek Him through Scripture, prayer, and vulnerable conversations with my new community.
This community was an important part of my SI experience. There is nothing quite so humbling or challenging as being a part of a close community of flawed people. But there’s also nothing as growing or life-giving. I would not be who I am today without my people in Santiago and Jarabacoa—my housemates, mentors, site leaders—they’re all amazing. I would’ve been lost without their wisdom and guidance, especially in navigating all of the new challenges that I would face while I was there.
Things like poverty, racial and cultural divides, and the global church, were things I had little experience with before my time in the Dominican Republic. Through the Biblically-based education I received in my online college classes along with the relationships built in the community, I had to face some harsh realities about the brokenness of our world. God changed my heart and I began to prioritize caring for the poor in responsible ways; I began to see different cultures and nations in a new light and what my place is among them. I have a deeper understanding of these things now and it has radically changed who I am and how I live.
So here I am. After two years, I’m back in Indiana and God is already using my Spanish and the lessons he taught me as I work at a school in a multi-cultural setting not far from the small town I grew up in. While the experience of two years abroad was incredibly challenging at times, the experience has forever changed me as a person. I leave the program more confident in God, myself, and the plans that He has for me in this world.”
If you have every thought about applying for one of our programs, whether that be Global Bridge, Study Abroad, Internship or Summer Staff, now is that time!