I never wanted to be a student missionary. The thought of putting a pause on my college plans to go teach on a small island was unthinkable.
After my first semester in college, my idea of the perfect and short route to graduation began to change. I no longer wanted to continue with my chosen major, which started the search for my next step.
Around December 2021, the Center for Faith Engagement at Andrews University started advertising student missions and many past student missionaries started sharing their testimonies. So many figurative and literal signs were posted in my path.
Avoidance was my first reaction. I did not want to move once again, as I had just entered my first year at Andrews. But God got through to me. Many talks with God, friends, and family led me into trusting God’s path, which was very unclear at the time. Then, somehow, three months later, I found myself sitting in the student missions training course.
By April 2022, I still had no idea where I wanted to go for my student mission year. I continually looked through the long list of placements and did not feel called towards any one of them. Living on an island looked so appealing to me, so I narrowed down my search to the Pacific Islands. Still, there were so many options to choose from.
As I was looking through the pictures of each school, many thoughts went through my head: Palau’s breathtaking, Majuro’s school is right on the water, and Yap... that school looks like the school in Nicaragua I had visited on a mission trip, which was the place where my relationship with God truly began.
At the time, I found the thought comforting, but not enough to base my decision off of. I had heard many amazing stories from past missionaries from Palau, so that became my first choice. Besides, I had not even heard of Yap before, and when I started researching it, I did not hear about the most positive experiences. Yet, I could not get the island out of my head. I was scared to list Yap as my first choice due to fear, so I decided to place it second on my list.
I vividly remember the moment I submitted my final list of preferred placements: Palau first and Yap second. In my head was a feeling of regret, then I remembered praying this, “If I am meant to go to Yap and not Palau, God take me there and take away my fear.”
At this point, my application was headed to the NAD for approval. As I waited to get an email confirming my destination, I contacted the first school on my list to try to set up an interview time. For more than three weeks, opportunities to interview kept falling through due to the time difference.
On May 9, I contacted my Student Missions Director to let her know that I still had not gotten in contact with the school first on my list. She suggested that I look into sending my application to the next island on my list. I was not quite ready to make that decision, so I said that I would wait a couple more days. One day later, I got an email from the NAD saying that my application was sent to and accepted for Yap.
How did it get sent to Yap first? Didn’t I say that I wanted to wait a couple of days before switching islands? After the fact, I found out that the Student Missions Director asked for my application to be sent to Yap, instead of Palau. Confusion and denial were my first reactions, but didn't I pray for God to send me to Yap if that's what he wanted? Well, God answered that prayer: He sent me to Yap. He let someone else make the switch for me since I wasn't ready to do it myself, and for that, I am so grateful.
As I look back on the moment I first saw the picture of Yap SDA School and was reminded of the school in Nicaragua where my relationship with God truly began, I know that that smallest moment of comfort I had felt in my head was God pulling me towards a decision that would change my life. I could have listened to the quiet and comforting draw of God from the start, but fear kept me from jumping onto His path for me, which has become an irony, because now I fear living a life that isn't along God’s path.
Every moment with hardships was entirely worth the relationships I made with others and with God. Even though I feared leaving behind my schooling, friends and family, being a student missionary was the perfect next step for me. God knew I needed to keep learning how to live for Him, and here is what I learned: He will lead, despite the fear that holds us back.