Moose Jaw to Madagascar: Briercrest global studies interns serve around the world

Posted: November 18, 2013

Internships for this year’s global studies students at Briercrest College and Seminary spanned all the way from Moose Jaw to Madagascar.

Erik Karklins, Leah Devos and Eunice Chow recently spoke during “Briercrest Unleashed”, an evening when students reported on their internship experiences.

“First thing I thought was Madagascar – lemurs everywhere,” Devos said with a laugh as she explained her initial surprise when she arrived at her internship in that country. “It didn’t happen. You had to go to a national park to be able to see them. They’re becoming extinct because people want to hurt them.”

The internship also revealed some unrealistic expectations Devos had on herself.

“I wanted to be able to literally learn the entire (Malagasy) language in six months,” she exclaimed. “I thought I could do that. God showed me it wasn’t really about that. I was able to meet other people that wanted to converse with me in English and that’s kind of the way I ministered to people. I think sometimes God just teaches you His expectations are more important. What He accomplished was more than what I thought would happen.”

The Cambridge, Ont. resident found that the Malagasy people expected her to speak French since she was white.

“As soon as I started to learn their language and used it in the marketplace, people were all of the sudden totally different,” she explained. “They would smile and they’re beaming, ‘You’re learning our language!’ I was able to build really strong relationships with individual Malagasy people.”

The marketplace was also where Chow had some of her favourite internship experiences in Anatalya, Turkey.

“I frequented there most weeks,” she said. “It’s about relationship and going back to the regular folks and things like that. I had my tomatoes guy, my salad guy. It was cool to be a part of that. One time I met an older woman. She asked me ‘Where are you from? Are your parents here?’ She found out my parents weren’t here. I bought a bag of popcorn kernels and she put a couple of things (for free) in my bag. That little glimpse of how much they care. Turks are known for their hospitality.”

Although Karklins’ internship was closer to home in Moose Jaw, he still found challenges in building relationships.

“I felt the Lord calling me towards Joe’s Place Youth Centre,” he explained. “I was the work skills and recreation coordinator—building relationships 40 hours a week if not more for this past summer.”

The steady hours helped Karklins to connect with youth at the centre.

“They’ve seen so many people come through – whether it’s family members or friends or people from Briercrest,” he explained. “You really break that barrier when you say, ‘Hey, I’m committed. I’m going to stay.’ They do accept you in as family as soon as you show you’re truly committed.”

With his internship being local, Karklins has been able to stay connected at Joe’s Place during the school year.

“That’s one of the reasons God brought me to Moose Jaw for the summer,” he said. “I still put in 10 hours a week (at Joe’s Place) while I’m in school. It’s tiring but it’s so worth it.”

Each of the global studies interns say they learned important lessons in their experiences.

“Don’t let circumstances dictate what happens in your life whether good or bad,” Karklins exclaimed. “It’s more like taking life by the horns and steering wherever God wants me to be but trying to excel where He is leading me.”

“At the beginning I felt I wasn’t a good missionary if I wasn’t accepting everything that came my way – ministry all the time – always pouring into other people,” Devos admitted. “But God was teaching me that it’s okay for others to pour into me. It was really cool. At the beginning of my internship, God brought a Malagasy friend almost right away. She ended up pouring into me and that taught me a lot about Christ and love.”

“Prayer is really important,” she continued. “Ask God to give you wisdom on what to accept and what to decline. There are so many needs. You can’t fill all those needs.”

“The best place to be is where God wants you to be,” Chow asserted. “You don’t have to worry about what’s next. ‘What am I going to do? Who am I going to meet?’ Be who you are. Continue seeking Him. The Holy Spirit is in you. Your presence makes a difference.”