Ask me five years ago what I would be doing when I graduated from college and I would tell you, “Oh, I want to teach in a neighborhood similar to the one that I grew up in. I would love to be a part of a church’s youth ministry so that I can come alongside of and mentor young girls.” It’s funny how God takes what we think we want, puts His touch on it, and makes it into a perfect picture.
My picture started to change color last summer (2010) while I was serving at Camp Zion in Iowa. My church’s pastor began asking the typical “what’s next after graduation” questions, and he reminded me that at one point I told him I was interested in teaching on the mission field. It amazes me to this day that he remembered that, but I shouldn’t be surprised because it was God at work! He then encouraged me to speak with the church conference’s field coordinator and the camp missionaries. I did and listened to what they had to say, but never pursued anything further.
As I began my student teaching in the fall, I realized I was a long way from home when I learned that my 5th and 6th graders struggled with drug addictions, gangs, and other alarming behaviors. For the first time in my schooling experience, I felt like I met a roadblock. How could I possibly relate to these students who were completely different from me? All I knew is that I wanted to make it my personal goal to show them every day that I cared about them. It was the most draining and rewarding challenge of my educational career. Right then, I knew that my picture had really changed. God was calling me to something bigger. I just had to discover it!
Soon after, I began asking for information on schools in low income neighborhoods, or even overseas. That’s when Tiffany Lamb came into my life, a Judson graduate, serving with Network of International Christian Schools in Indonesia. I began talking to her about the organization and applied over Christmas break. After Christmas, the NICS office contacted me and began directing my interests. They told me that I should check out their annual conference in Southaven, MS, and that it would be an opportunity to meet with the directors of the schools, learn about the organization, and interview with the countries where I was interested in serving. My dad and I decided to go together, and after hearing the first three schools, I looked over at my dad, water in both of our eyes, and said, “This is it.” The next day I interviewed with four directors.
A couple weeks after the conference, the four became two, Bolivia and Venezuela. I had no idea how I was going to decide. Caracas had beautiful weather and the beach, was an elementary ESL position, and had a population of 6 million people. La Paz was a little on the colder side but had the mountains, was a middle school position, and had a population of 1 million people. They were completely different in every way. To make matters worse, I had to decide in four days. I remember calling my dad and insisting that the Lord would not be able to tell me in that short of time and confirm it in my heart what I was supposed to do. Jokingly, he told me that since I had no faith I could flip a coin – and that it was Biblical! [“We may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall.” Proverbs 13:33] I REFUSED! There was no way that I could trust my future with a coin flip!
In a meeting the following day, one of my friends said, “Well let’s just flip a coin for fun!” He said that heads would be for Venezuela, and tails would be for Bolivia. Not understanding how he decided that, I agreed and he flipped the coin. I looked and it was…HEADS! Venezuela had “won” according to the flip. My stomach dropping out of my chair and going into the basement of the building told me that it hadn’t. I encouraged a “best two out of three.” Venezuela couldn’t win! We flipped again, and it was heads again, or Venezuela, whichever you prefer. That’s when I realized it. I HAD MADE MY DECISION, and I had done it exactly how my dad had flippantly suggested.
How humorous of my Daddy to answer my prayer in a way that would completely confirm my decision. I emailed the director, signed the paperwork, and began the journey to be an employee of NICS! So here I am, 45 days before I leave! I couldn’t be more excited to see what the Lord has in store for me in the upcoming days.