In searching for stories and other materials to include in the Mission Post each quarter, I am taken away to far off lands as I read letters from our volunteers about their trials, fears and triumphs.

Ramey Penueta pictured in Samoa with one of her students.

As a mother of two teenage daughters, I wonder how the parents of our volunteers handle their children leaving the nest to go to some far off place to serve the Lord and to find themselves. It’s not like they are just around the corner where mom and dad can come over to help. In some places they are not even an easy telephone call away.

How would I feel to hear just bits and pieces of news from my child telling me about some of the hardships she has to deal with. I’m sure I would second guess my role in her being there. That is until I think about the positive side of the volunteer experience.

Over and over I read how life changing it is for our volunteers to be totally dependent upon God for strength, guidance and wisdom. Comments such as this one from Julie who served in Japan, “My experience in Japan has brought me to a deeper understanding of the Bible and the role of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit in my life ... my walk with Jesus has been awesome.” And this one from Carina, (her story is on page 21) “While in Argentina, I experienced a change in attitude toward life. The experience helped me to refocus and simplify my life. I realized that I work not only for money, but more importantly, for a higher purpose—to preach the love of Christ through my actions.”

These are lesson’s that only our heavenly Parent can teach. How rewarding it is, after 18 years with our child, to see our Father take over and teach such lessons. Unmistakable evidence that He is with them when we’re not.

The volunteer is not the only one who benefits from their time in the field. A whole new world is open to their family, friends and home church. Those of us who for various reasons cannot go out into the field to volunteer, get to do so through those we know who took the opportunity to go.

Take the story of Ramey who is serving at the Siufaga school in Samoa. Her mother tells not only of Ramey’s experiences but also of the benefits to those at home who have gained through her service.

“Ramey has endured the high humidity, swarms of bugs, uninvited critters in her house, rashes, boredom, cultural differences, and facing a roomful of 22 non-English-speaking first and second graders unprepared, but has loved every minute of her time there...Believe me when I say that her fulfilling the call to Samoa was the answer to our prayers...Because Ramey has gone to Samoa, the financial need of the school has been brought to the attention of many. I believe the San Francisco Samoan church is actively participating in a mission project of raising funds to purchase a van so that children from farther areas may attend the school. My brother’s school had a week of ‘Discover Samoa’ in which the children learned about Samoa and participated in a fund raiser to provide classroom supplies for the school. Ramey plans to video tape the presentation of supplies to her class to send back to my brother’s school along with small gifts of lava-lavas and shell leis. My cousin in Illinois has started a pen-pal program between children from her class and children from the Siufaga school. Ramey’s former pathfinder club here has collected classroom supplies as well to send to Ramey for her class as their mission project.”

So, ask me if I would encourage my daughters to volunteer somewhere far away (or close), learn who they are and what purpose God has in mind for them? My answer—a resounding YES!

By: Donna Dix

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