Summer plans have been the question for a couple weeks now, and let me assure you: I have been thinking about them for a lot longer. A lot of thought and prayer has brought me to this point and is still happening because what I'm about to share was never “my” plan for my life—and I have had a lot of doubts. Thankfully, God has worked with me and given me many opportunities for growth and the realization of HIS more wonderful plan for me. Over the two years I have been reevaluating my priorities and goals with new eyes and a perspective that I can confidently say only came from God. So many sermons, songs, and versus in the past months and years have convicted me to give my life for Him and to spread His love rather than chase the corporate dream I had always imagined. One particular conviction has been the story of Abraham and how he followed God to leave all that he knew—without doubting or questioning. Early my journey the verse Luke 6:46 became a convicting guide for me as well: “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?”. I know God has called me but I have not done what He has asked..
Yet. I am working on it.
In the back of my mind, my time on South Caicos was a personal test to see how well I could handle being away from my family for so long and staying close to God without the large church support group I am used to. And wow, it was definitely a test. It was so good for me: while the environment was beautiful, I quickly learned that life in the Caribbean is not paradise and not glamorous. I had no air conditioning and only got one freshwater shower a week (the rest were saltwater), I slept in a bunk with mosquito netting, I ate rice and beans for many nights of the week. And there were cockroaches and mosquitoes and I was perpetually sticky with sweat from the heat. At that point it was easy to doubt God’s call because it didn’t seem so “fun” anymore, but many sermons and prayers later made me realize that just because I didn’t like the idea didn’t mean that God was changing His mind. It has been a test of faith to follow in a direction that may not be my choosing.
But God provided so many opportunities for learning in those three months, including some wonderful conversations to witness and be questioned by my peers at the research center. I felt pushed spiritually more than I have ever been in school or college, and by people who were truly searching for answers. It was absolutely amazing and so clear that the words coming out of my mouth weren’t mine, but His. I treasured these experiences and realized that this is what is meaningful and important in life—spreading news of the gospel through all the world.
Halfway through the semester we had a break, and I talked to Brother Loren Dettwyler from my home church, Silverton, about visiting Jamaica during that time. He is on the Jamaican Operations Committee, and told me that the JOC was planning to be in Jamaica the same week. God really orchestrated that weekend so I could see what missionary life was like without being surrounded by work teams and friend groups. A missionary couple who had moved back to the States also presented on the challenges and stress of being a missionary and that was constructive for me to hear. In all, it was a challenging and emotional weekend because I saw how hard life could be but I knew that God was still calling me in that direction.
Then I went back to South Caicos to finish out the semester, and then came home to Oregon in December. The adjustment back to “regular life” has been difficult in its own way, and clarifying too. I’ve played around with ideas of what I could do, how I could be valuable while using the talents and interests God has given me. I’ve stumbled across microfinance, and would love to develop an environmental microfinance program to support families and young entrepreneurs. I think it would be beneficial to mentor businesses throughout the process to teach environmental education and basic business skills so development can be done in a way that will preserve the long-term health of the environment. Ultimately, this will benefit the people by conserving the environmental resources they use to survive. I just want to serve and know God will place me in a position to do that, to fill the needs that are there.
I want to use this summer to prepare myself for whatever role God has for me-- which is a challenge in itself because I don't have many people to look to who have done this before. I can clearly remember an evening just a two months ago where I was walking around campus and talking to my dad about this, playing out different scenarios and what would be a good place for me. That conversation broke me down: I felt like all of my well-built plans had finally collapsed and I had nothing to lean on, no guarantees for the future if I was to fully embrace this. But since that night of brokenness, God has shown Himself as Awesome as always, bringing together plans I never would have dreamed of.
A position opened with Enactus, the entrepreneurship organization I am a part of, to coordinate a microloan program in Nicaragua for 6 weeks this summer. I will now be one of three interns to travel there, disburse loans, run and evaluate a business workshop, and find new non-profit partners for next year. Plans are coming together quickly since we are leaving mid-June... in just a few weeks! I had never thought this was an option, even though I knew we did microlending to entrepreneurs in Nicaragua -- I had thought the summer team was already chosen. The night after my talk with dad, I asked our faculty adviser about it and she said if I wanted a spot, I had one. That moment was so humbling for me and such evidence of God organizing things.
I will get back to Oregon at the end of July and then have a few days before going to a scholarship conference in Tucson. God has blessed me with some awesome opportunities and one of these was a scholarship that also sends students to a leadership conference in Arizona. While I will be missing out on more time at home, I am excited to meet other scholars at the conference and go to Tucson church.
After getting home from Tucson, I will be interning for 5 weeks at the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh. The path to this point has been an adventure if there ever was one, but it is actually happening. For those who don't know, in the 1980s, a Bangladeshi professor loaned a few dollars to some women who were barely living at the poverty level. This money allowed them to buy supplies for their craft-making businesses and cut out the middleman so they could make a decent living. This idea of providing "microloans" was so successful that the Grameen Bank was started, now serving millions of borrowers and allowing people to pull themselves out of poverty by loaning them just a little bit to get started. Grameen is now the "Apple" or "Microsoft" of the microfinance industry. I will be interning here to learn the processes of microcredit and how to set up (and fund) these systems.
So I'm packing a bag again. And leaving home. And following God in whatever plans He has for me, which I am still finding out myself.
And I need your prayers!
I'm a twenty-something from the Pacific NW making home in new places as I follow where God leads.
My intent is to show Christ's love to the world and use business to solve some of the social problems we face: hunger, illiteracy, healthcare, economic hardship. For now, I'm in a stage of learning. A little adventuring, a few books, some good friends, and a whole lot of prayer and life runs on.