The Best Decision I've Made in 2020

As many of you can relate to, I had no idea that 2020 was going to turn out the way it did. Sure I expected challenges but this year has added a new meaning to that word. Around the beginning of February, my school (Walla Walla University) had a missions week where they advertised all of the opportunities to serve as a student missionary during the 2020/21 school year. They had students who had previously served as missionaries share their testimonies and they set up pictures of the locations where they needed missionaries all around campus and after a few days of walking around looking at the different opportunities I decided to go to the missions office and ask some questions. At first I wasn't sure if I wanted to serve as a student missionary during my college experience because at that point I really wanted to get done with school as fast as possible so I could start having my own career, but the more I heard about being a missionary the more I wanted to do it, so I prayed and thought about it for a while then eventually agreed to pledge my next year to serving God as a missionary.

After sifting through dozens of missionary positions I settled on pursuing a nursing position in Peru. I am a nursing major so it naturally made sense that I would work as a nurse during my year as a missionary to gain some experience doing what I was passionate about. Around the time I started pursuing my call to Peru, Covid-19 hit and all of a sudden I was doing school from home. Everything felt uncertain, I remembered thinking if there would even be a student missionary program and if I should forget about doing it next school year, but I felt God calling me to stick with it, so I did. I got accepted to go to Peru, went through the training and took the required religion class to prepare me for my experience. As I got into the summer I still hadn't heard if the volunteer organization I needed to go through to serve in Peru was going to send missionaries or not and eventually they decided not to send students internationally. I wasn't too surprised by this decision, but it was disappointing, not only for me but for the other students wanting to serve as a missionary this year.

Having already settled in my heart that I was going to serve as a missionary this year, I began looking at calls for missionaries within the United States. I wanted to live in a new place so I looked for a call that was about as far away as I could get from Portland, Oregon and found a boarding school called Shenandoah Valley Academy (SVA) that was looking for an assistant dean. When I first started looking for a missionary call I looked into being a dean but ultimately decided to serve as a nurse because it made more sense for my career but as I looked into the position at SVA I thought "maybe God wants me to be a dean this year." I called the school, talked with the head dean and ended up getting the position. I was very excited and the more I thought about it the more excited I got. I was happy when I got accepted to serve as a nurse in Peru but the feeling I got when I was accepted to serve as a dean was even more exciting, that's when I felt for sure God wanted me to serve in Virginia as a dean.

People asked me if I was scared to go but honestly I felt peace. I was excited to have an opportunity to share my experiences with the girls at SVA, I was excited to see how God was going to use me to make a difference in a new place. It was a crazy couple weeks trying to prepare to leave for a year, going to Virginia meant leaving a month earlier than I had planned but somehow I got everything ready and before I knew it I was eastward bound! My first impression of my new home in Virginia was how beautiful it was, it was magnificently green and the sun was shining bright. It was all lovely until I stepped out of the car and felt the moist blanket heat caused by high levels of humidity. I sweated without even moving, it was awful! After nearly a month here I still haven't adjusted to it, although I think I've learned to accept it. I've decided I'll never complain about dry heat again. With the exception of the humidity I love everything about being at SVA, the staff have been nothing but warm and welcoming from my first day. My second day at SVA brought another oddity that us west coasters aren't familiar with, lightning storms! Sure I'd seen lightning before, maybe once every couple years at a pretty good distance, but when lightning strikes here, the thunder is so loud you'd think a canon was going off! In one month I'd doubled the number of lightning storms I'd seen in my entire life. Thunderstorms are truly spectacular!

I can't wait to see what adventures arise from this new chapter in my life! I'm very thankful God led me to be where I am for this next year and I by far think this is the best decision I could've made for myself this year. I'm so happy I get to share this exciting part of my life with all of you!

(Note - this is not a picture of the school, it's just a lovely place near it, I'll post a picture of the school later)


Hi, thanks for stopping by!

My name is Karissa Thomas, I'm a young Christian woman who loves Jesus, music, and nature!

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