Hope In The Harvest Missions International (HITHMI) is very grateful for the interns (and their families) who commit their intern academic time to the work at the Agriculture Research Center (ARC). During her stay from the start of 2021 until April, Lynnsey Crouch, a graduate in Animal Science from the University of Findlay in Ohio, made a positive impact in the work and knowledge of the ARC team. Maybe you, your student, or your young person in your home is thinking about interning. HITHMI and Lynnsey wants you to hear first hand from Lynnsey about the process and decisions she made and the experiences she had to join us on the field in Liberia.
How did you hear about Hope in the Harvest and what attracted you to their mission?
“I heard about Hope in the Harvest through a google search. I was looking for a mission where I would be able to pair my passion for agriculture with my desire to serve our God. I was attracted to this mission because of their commitment to providing those in an undeveloped country solutions for both physical and spiritual needs.”
Before your internship experience, what were you most looking forward to and why? What were you most worried about?
“Prior to my internship experience I was most looking forward to connecting with others in Liberia with similar passions as myself: agriculture and serving God. I was eager to share my agriculture knowledge with those in Liberia and to also learn about tropical agriculture. I was also looking forward to fully trusting God in this process. Up until this experience, I had never traveled outside the US and really did not know what to expect. I was most worried about the travel to Liberia. Because I was traveling during COVID, there was extra travel regulations and steps to complete.”
Why did you decide to come to Liberia? What were some of the main reasons you wanted to do this experience?
“If you told me one year ago that I would be spending 31/2 months in Liberia, I would have said “yeah right!” However, last summer I started to feel God asking me to use my passion of agriculture to serve others. I did not quite know what that entailed at first, but it lead me to google “agriculture missions organizations” which brought me to HITH. The mission seemed to align with what God was leading me too, so I pursed the opportunity. The main reasons I wanted to do this experience were to follow what I thought God was leading me too, to serve others with my gifts and abilities, and to experience life in an underdeveloped country.”
What did you learn as a result of your internship experience?
“The most impactful thing I learned due to this experience is the importance of relationships. When first arriving in Liberia I was thinking of “all the amazing and grand” things I was going to do to change agriculture in Liberia. I quickly learned it was not my big plans or ideas that were going to make an lasting impact, but the relationships that were formed. Taking time to get to know a person and just working with them. Doing their everyday tasks and sharing small bits of knowledge or ideas with someone is a much more effective way to make a difference.”
What are some skills that you acquired as a result of this experience?
“Some skills that I have acquired while interning in Liberia are patience, learning to go with the flow, and effective communication. I say effective communication because in Liberia I experienced so many communication errors. Errors between me and other Liberians and even Liberian to Liberian. One could say it is a language barrier, but really I found it was mostly a lack of good instructions and failing to be sure someone was actually understanding.”
How will you use what your learned from this experience in your future career or jobs?
“I will use what I learned from this experience in my future career/jobs by remembering progress is not always measured by success, but also by the impact you have on others and them on you.”
What if anything would you do differently?
“I would not change anything from this experience. I loved living in Liberia and being apart of the HITH team.”
What are you most proud of from this experience?
“I am most proud of my personal transformation and the many friends I made in Liberia that became family.”
What difficulties did you encounter and how did you handle them?
“Some difficulties that encountered while living in Liberia were plans not working out. There were a few projects that I will not be able to help finish out because things kept getting delayed. I continually had to remind myself of the lessons God was teaching me during these difficulties. Because some projects were delayed, I was able to spend more time just working with different departments at the ARC and providing encouragement wherever needed.
• Was there anything that shocked or surprised you about agriculture, culture, school people, etc?
o Because I had never traveled out of the US I really did not know what to expect. The most shocking things were definitely culture related. Some things that shocked me about the Liberian culture were how some believed in witch craft and curses and also claimed to be Christians. I was also shocked about how everything is based around community. So, if it is mine its ours. Whenever a relative has money it becomes their duty to help provide for their entire family. I think that can be good up to a certain extent, but not when it starts to pull someone down. What shocked me in regards to agriculture was the lack of agriculture. There is so much fertile ground taken up by bush. A country that once produced much of their food now imports the majority of their food.” In what ways if any has this experience changed you?
“This experience has opened my eyes and allowed me to focus on what’s in front of me and to focus on seeking God’s face rather than His hands.”
What would you say to someone who was considering doing this internship? What advice or recommendations would you give?
“I would say go for it! Some advice I would give is to forget about your ideas of how you think you can impact Liberia and focus on how God will use you there.”
What was your favorite thing about your experience?
“My favorite thing about my experience in Liberia was the life-long friendships that were made.”
What is one of your favorite memories that you often share with people back home now that you have returned?
“One of my favorite memories that I love to share with others is when the staff started to teach me some Liberian English “phrases”. They taught me how to say “ehh huhhhh” like a Liberian and they loved to hear me say it. After a few months many of the Liberian staff did not say good morning to me anymore, but instead a jubilant “eh huhhh!” It was so fun to feel like I was apart of their culture in a small way.”
How has the transition been back home to the US? easy/hard- why?
“The transition has been going okay. It is hard to see how “extravagant” the American lifestyle is compared to how many Liberians live. In America we take so many things for granted such as clean water, not having to go to the store/market each day for food, transportation, health care, etc. I do find myself missing my Liberia family often!”
How did this experience change the way you look at agriculture? Africa? poverty? your own country- USA?
“This experience has changed my outlook on many things. In terms of agriculture, it was very interesting to learn about tropical agriculture and the many different crops grown in Liberia. While being at the ARC I was also able to learn about the Farming God’s Way method and I loved how it linked agriculture and the Bible together. Coming from a farming family, I enjoyed getting to work with the farm staff both in the fields and with the animals. It became evident that farming is seen very different between Liberians and Americans. In America very few farmers farm just enough for their family, whereas in Liberia many farmers provide only for their family and maybe a few others. Through this experience I was able to witness poverty like I have never seen before. I realized with poverty comes food insecurities, poor health care/awareness, etc. Living in Liberia for a short time has made me truly appreciate the opportunities we have in the US. However, I don’t think us Americans are grateful for the position God has placed us in. We were placed in a culture and environment that has plenty. These thoughts have continually brought me Matthew 25:40 continually popped in my head. It reads, “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”
How did this experience impact/grow/challenge your faith?
“This experience challenged me in many ways which led to growth in my faith. I was challenged to seek God’s face when situations did not turn out how I thought they should have. And when I would ask myself why did God choose these beautiful people to live in this struggling country and me in my country and culture; I learned that God puts each of us in our place to work for His good. I was also challenged in my faith when I would hear of the struggles that many Liberians face, that we would never even imagine, and see their strong faith in God and in the promises He has given us. My stay in Liberia and my Liberia family have and continue to challenge me in my faith each day!”