I remember sitting in my 7th grade class and listening to a returned student missionary from Walla Walla share experiences from his year of service. From that moment forward, I knew I wanted to find a way to do God’s work.
Growing up with a Christian education, I was blessed to be able to attend short-term mission trips to Los Angeles, San Diego, and even Peru. In my senior year of high school, we were supposed to take a trip to Indonesia for some mission work. But with Covid just beginning, our trip was canceled. I was heartbroken. I had longed to meet the kids, share God’s love, and follow his calling for me at that moment.
When I began my freshman year at Walla Walla University, there were endless signs that God was calling me to become a student missionary. There were many times during vespers and various services that we would hear from numerous student missionaries about how much their year away impacted their lives. I could see the joy they all had sharing their experiences. I knew that this is what I was supposed to do. I reached out to the mission's office and began the process.
After many months of meeting with the missions coordinator and completing lots of paperwork, the big day came around. On May 14th of this year, Walla Walla University hosted a special vespers for the student missionaries going out in the upcoming year. I remember feeling super nervous because many people were unaware of my decision to serve and this would be the way a lot of my friends would find out. When we arrived at the church, the SM directors told us to choose a flag – particularly for the location we'd be serving – then to walk down and present it to begin the service. At the time, I had no idea where I was going to serve. With much uncertainty in my head, I chose to march with the Marshallese flag. Four months later, I prepared to depart for Majuro in the Marshall Islands.
I was first given the date of July 11th to fly out. But less than one week before the flight, I received a message saying I was unable to be included in the group that would begin quarantine to enter the Marshall Islands. I was placed on the next list, but soon after I was told that my flight for August 22nd was canceled as well.
Finally, the date of August 29th was confirmed. I felt so many different emotions. I was so excited to have a new flight scheduled, but part of me wondered if I would actually get to leave or if something would cancel it yet again. But with God’s amazing promise to me and lots of hard goodbyes, it all worked out and I am now on my home island for the year.
The process to get here took almost a month. Due to Covid, we had to go through a long process of quarantine, and I had an extremely difficult time. There was a week isolated in a hotel in Honolulu, followed by flying to Kwajalein for another two weeks in a government facility. We had to test for the virus before Hawaii, twice in Hawaii, and three times in Kwajalein. Six in total before the flight to Majuro. But that was not the hardest part.
Apart from my friends and loved ones, I sat in a room stuck in my thoughts. I have never felt so much doubt in my whole life. And one night while on the phone, I asked my dad, "Dad... if this wasn't a part of God's plan for me, I wouldn't be here, right?" I constantly found myself questioning God’s plan for my life.
It was only after arriving on the island and joining the other student missionaries, meeting my kids, and seeing the impact I would have on their lives, that it all became clear. No matter how much Satan tried to test me, no matter how many trials I have faced, and no matter how tired or stressed I became, I know this is where I am supposed to be.
My dad recently shared with me what Matthew 22:37-39 talks about – that God lays out our mission. We were sent here to love Him and love others. This is my greatest purpose, and that is why I am here.
As I am about to finish my first full week of teaching, I have already seen so much growth within myself and my students. Within a few hours in my first class with my students, they sang Lauren Daigle’s song “Trust in You.” This is now a song I sing with them about every other day. As this year begins, I know I will face many challenges. Before even arriving in Majuro, I felt my faith in Christ was tested.
The song says,
“When You don’t move the mountains
I’m needing You to move,
When You don’t part the waters
I wish I could walk through.
When You don’t give the answers
As I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust,
I will trust in You”
So as time goes on, as I get closer to my students and begin to feel more at home, I am prepared to remember the importance of trusting in God with this adventure in my life.
Trusting God’s plan is hard for many people. It was and still is for me as I serve this year. I struggled through the long process of quarantine when all I wanted was to be on the island with my kids. But what was so amazing to me was to see and hear that they were even more excited for me to come. That they sat eagerly waiting, just as I did. And now that I am here, being showered with love, I reflect on the three and a half weeks of quarantine and see how it was already so worth it! And it's only been one week since my arrival. I am ready to see my life transform as more time passes.
Jeremiah 29:11 says, “'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”