many college students, an opportunity to serve as a missionary is
something they cant pass up. It isnt too much of a sacrifice,
they say, to give one year of service. As they go to far away places,
or serve in the States, they find the difficulties missionaries face
are many: A roommate who doesnt know the definition of quiet.
Students who just wont learn. An administrator who simply does
not understand what is expected, or a significant other back home
who breaks off the relationship. Most returning missionaries remember
having more than their fair share of problems.
Why then would someone choose to do it all over again? I could also
ask why someone would not choose to serve another year? During my
first year of mission service, I learned to trust God more and trust
myself less. I had to begin making decisions on my own and become
a responsible adult. That year of service became a year of growth
and exploration. Of course, I realize that for many missionaries who
are in college, the road ahead is long and they dont have the
time to serve a second year. Others point out that they feel that
their mission service abroad helped them grow, but would seem stifling
or weird to do again. Still others say that they do not feel called
to serve again...
Let me take you back in time to March, 1999, to a small island called
Pohnpei in the middle of the equatorial pacific. My first year of
service as a high school teacher was going splendidly and I didnt
want it to end. I felt a call to return to Pohnpei the next year.
I did not take this lightly, and responded with a serious look at
what I felt God wanted me to do. I prayed a lot about it and decided
to sign up for another year of service. However, since the calls for
Pohnpei 1999-2000 were already full, I promised myself that I would
come back the following year instead. That fall, back at Walla Walla
College, I again was reminded of my promise. I still felt Gods
call, so I went to the missions office and signed up to go back by
the end of October. Just like before, everything fell into place and
I was able to return for this, my second year at Pohnpei SDA School.
People ask me all the time, What was the real reason you came
back? I have to tell them that I dont know yet. Of course
I mention that I like it here and that there were many things that
I missed when I was back home, but theres more to it than that.
I know that God has some bigger plan for me coming back than just
to have the same experience for the second time. One of my favorite
texts states, 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 hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)
How am I to know fully what Gods plans are for me this year?
Another text holds the answer. Trust in the Lord with all your
heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge
him and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5,6)
It has been a test of faith for me to come back out here this year.
I have already had times of doubt and questions, especially when leaving
Portland airport again! But I know that Someone is on my side who
knows all the answers. All I have to do is follow His leading.