Reflections from Abroad: Renee Labat

Date posted: Wednesday 06 January 2016

Renee Labat is serving a year in Argentina. Labat names her faith homes as Good Shepherd, Inver Grove Heights and Augustana, West Saint Paul.


2015 has marked a year of great change. In the last year I have studied abroad, graduated college, and gotten my teaching license. Despite these great events, I think these last four months have been the time where I have experienced the most change and growth. Over the last four months, I have been a part of YAGM where I have been sent to serve in Argentina. I live in a city called Grand Bourg where I work in two schools, play guitar in church, help with Youth Group, and work in a school for adults with disabilities. This has been an amazing journey so far, but it has not been easy. I came into this year with many expectations, but have grown immensely from learning to let them go.


One of the greatest challenges for me has been expectations; my vision of a year of service was building a well while simultaneously curing cancer and solving world hunger. This has not been the case. 99% of my job is playing guitar and hanging out with youth, sometimes making it hard to see the impact I am making. I have also had to deal with the expectations of others. Many people back home think I should be exploring Argentina and having grand adventures. I always feel their disappointment when I tell them that is not what I am doing here, and feel disappointed in myself that I have not had this great adventure that everyone envisioned for me.


However, what I have realized is that this is the great adventure: I am living in another country, working in another culture, and meeting some of the most amazing people. Traveling to many different cities is not nearly as great of an adventure as living in just one community. Also, maybe I do not have some great concrete output to show for my time here, but every time one of my students calls my name in the streets, or my youth group cheers me on in soccer, I know that I must be making some sort of a difference. I have learned to accept that I am not here to be a hero or a savior; God is our hero. Jesus is our savior. I am here to be the hands and feet of God and do what he calls me to do, even if it feels like I am doing very little.