It will be a whirlwind winter for Maddison Andrzejewski.
The recently graduated of Swift Current Comprehensive High School graduate has a busy schedule lined up for the winter months, with stops in Swaziland, Nicaragua and the Philippines.
However, she’s not going for the warm weather or tropical fruit. Andrzejewski will be working with local missionaries and church organizations, doing everything from construction work, to childcare, to prison ministry. It’s a bit of a scattershot outing, but one she couldn’t be happier to be doing.
“I’m going to see what I can learn, how I can become a better person, seeing how I can become a better person back at home,” she said shortly after arriving back home from a pre-trip boot camp in Atlanta.
The plan is to spend three months in each country assisting local missionaries and church groups in whatever way necessary. She’ll be part of a team of young people from across North American, many of which have never left their comfortable surroundings.
That’s part of what the boot camp in Atlanta was for, to help prepare Andrzejewski and her teammates for the difficulties that lie ahead.
“Basically what the organization did was pack all of the worst-case scenarios into one week,” she explained. “It was definitely a growing experience.”
The camp prepared them for everything from sleeping outside in the rain to rationing food.
“Even after just a week, you’re a completely different person,” she continued. “You have a completely different perspective.”
Even though her duties aren’t set in stone, Andrzejewski said she’s excited about the opportunity. She said she’s heard lots about the Philippines from some of her friends who were born in the country, and expects the experience in Swaziland and Nicaragua to be eye opening.
There are plenty of impoverished nations in Central America, but Nicaragua is one of the poorest. Swaziland, a landlocked nation just north of South Africa, might actually be fairing worse. As of 2012 no country in the world had more people suffering from AIDS.
Andrzejewski isn’t under any illusions about the trip that lies before her. She realizes how challenging it is to leave a lasting impact in each country, rather than create something that lasts for a few months at most. That’s why she’s happy to be working with established churches and organizations that already have a plan, but need workers to help carry it out.
There’s also the experience of seeing how different life can be for people who live without the luxuries Canadians are accustomed to. She said it’s that experience that she hopes will help her make wise choices about how she lives back home.