In less than a year, God has completely turned my life upside down.
My family and I began attending The Church at Severn Run about two and a half years ago. Though I missed my old church, I tried to get in the swing of things, participating in the college-age Connect Group, SMASH, and working in the preschool wing. Other than teaching three year olds in KidCity, which I’d done before I came to Severn Run, I wasn’t really interested in taking up any other leadership positions.
Last summer, I attended a church conference that encouraged those of us still in college to start Bible studies on campus, and to spread the Word particularly on college campuses, such as UMBC. Initially, I thought about it, but ultimately decided I couldn’t do it. I wasn’t outgoing enough; I didn’t know enough about the Bible. I came up with dozens of excuses.
I went home, and life went on, until, last fall when I was asked to co-lead SMASH because some of the original leaders were moving away. My mind went back to the message at the church conference, and after good deal of prayer and discussion with my parents, I agreed. It was scary and outside of my comfort zone, but this, I figured, was all God was going to call me to for a while.
My life continued to change, though I didn’t see it at the time. I’d kept in contact with Joe Thompson while he was in Hawaii with YWAM. [Read Joe's story here] One night, after attending a campus Bible study that was focused on missions, I remember telling him that I would never be able to do what he was doing. I couldn’t go so far away from my home and my family. I’ve never even been away from my parents for more than a week. I’m also extremely introverted. So many excuses, all saying that I felt I was not made to go to distant lands to teach or spread Jesus' story.
Meanwhile, I was beginning to feel run down. My education classes, though rewarding, weren’t teaching me what I felt that I needed to know. They told me that I needed to adapt my lessons for students with learning disabilities and linguistic differences, but they weren’t telling me how to do it. I felt that I was inadequately prepared to be a teacher even though I’ve wanted to be a teacher since I was in kindergarten. I began to pray about whether this was the career path that God wanted me to follow.
Not long after, I saw a video posted about a Teaching English as a Second Language Program at YWAM. The program would teach the students how to create lessons and units for English Language Learners, and then, because Hawaii has such a diverse language population, it would allow the prospective teachers to actually teach those students.
I was somewhat interested, but knew that there would be too many obstacles. I start student teaching in the fall, and the schedules obviously wouldn’t line up. The funds were also an obstacle. As a child in a family of six where the parents are now trying to put three kids through college at the same time, my family simply doesn’t have the money to fund this type of trip. Nonetheless, I was strangely compelled to look into the program, and the scheduling.
Surprisingly, due to the new law in Maryland that schools cannot start until after Labor day, I wouldn’t have to start student teaching until after the program had finished, and my job, which is directly connected to that of the school system, would only be marginally affected. UMBC’s academic schedule cooperated too. The more I looked into this option, the more it looked like God was giving me a good kick in the pants. It was as if there were a billboard saying, “Cara, this is where I’m sending you. Now, go. Apply.”
I learned I’ve been accepted into the program, and I would leave July 11. With some donations from family and a bonus for extra professional development from work, I bought the plane tickets, and I went to YWAM for a 6-week program over the summer! God can always open the doors to help us grow out of our comfort zones and into His plan for our lives.