SENT is part of a new weekly series telling stories of people at Pulpit Rock living missionally in their unique contexts. We believe that all of us have been SENT into our neighborhoods, workplaces and city. Our hope is that you are encouraged and inspired to lean into the places God has called you. And then we’d like to tell your story. Because we know that the story of God’s people is the story of God. If you have a story you would like to share with us send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You decided to move to Bolivia to teach. Why?
Five years ago I was kind of lost. I wasn’t sure what to do with my life. All I knew was I longed for something that mattered and felt the urge to move overseas. God’s plan revealed itself slowly. I started working at a school and I enjoyed working with the kids. Some of my coworkers encouraged me to teach and I slowly began to see this as a way to fulfill some of my hopes and interests. Thanks to my wonderful sister, I had heard of a school in Bolivia that held my interest, and when I finally started applying for overseas teaching positions, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to go to a place I had been excited about for years!
So in July of 2016, I boarded an airplane for La Paz, Bolivia for only my second international trip ever. With little Spanish, I arrived in South America ready to teach at Highlands International School. I was drawn to this school in particular because it is comprised of both international and local students. I have met amazing people and had many experiences that have changed my perspectives. I don’t view the world in the same way I did before I left two years ago. I have hugged my students straight out of the baptism pool because they both accepted Christ and chose to be baptized on campus during the school day. I have prayed with students through some of their most difficult moments. I have gone to their birthday parties and attempted to have conversations using my terrible Spanish (at least I try). As Rowland said a few weeks ago, I’m seasoning my relationships with families and the community with the love of Christ.
I know that you recently made a decision to stay for an even longer time. What was behind that decision?
After completing my original two-year contract at Highlands, I was ready to move on to whatever new adventure God called me to. I never expected He would call me to stay. This was a first for me, actually. I can tell you that staying was not what I wanted at first but the Lord spoke clearly. I cannot tell you exactly how He spoke or what He said, but I knew. So, for the first time in my life, I consider myself planted until God tells me to move. I am ready to dig in and continue to build relationships with the people God puts around me.
What have you been learning or seeing about God in this season?
It has been incredible to see changes in my own heart. I moved around a lot growing up and I am not used to putting down roots. But God has drastically changed my heart over the past few months. Instead of waiting for the next place to go, I am excited to meet the incoming staff members and reconnect with my students. I want to more deeply experience the culture of the city. I am also in a season of remembering to let God be in control. I like to be prepared and have everything I need to succeed. But I am asking God to help me let go and trust Him to provide.
What would your encouragement be to someone who doesn’t think they could ever be a “missionary” like you?
If God is calling you to it, step out in boldness! There is no obstacle the Lord will not destroy if you are following Him. I had very little international experience; I didn’t speak the local language; there were people who were discouraging or didn’t agree with my mission. But I am so humbled and inspired looking back at the path the Lord has led me down over the last few years. You may be at the beginning of that story you will later look back on and use to inspire others. You’ve heard “God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called?” That is absolutely true! You will never be qualified on your own. Neither will I. But God prepares us for what is ahead. If you are called to international missions, God will qualify you. If you are called to a U.S. missions organization or to be a missionary in your own community, He will qualify you! If you wait until you are qualified or ready or until your life is a certain way, you may never go. Take the leap!
Any questions or stories I missed that you want to tell?
Bolivia is one of the poorest countries in South America but it is rich in culture and history. Every year we celebrate the country by learning traditional native dances, dressing in traditional costume, and eating great food like anticuchos (which is cow heart served with potatoes and a spicy peanut sauce). We want students to love their country, whether it is their native country or their adopted country.
Highlands International School is growing and has a lot of exciting new things happening. We will have two new classrooms in August and we are expanding our computer lab in anticipation for the computer upgrades we are hoping to make when money permits. We have a number of students who attend our school on scholarship and our international staff relies on support to supplement our minimal stipend.
If you would like to know more about Highlands you can visit highlandsinternational.org. To learn more about supporting a teacher, student, or special project at Highlands or another school in the Network of International Christian Schools (NICS), visitnics.org/donate. To support Kara, visit nics.org/donate and enter project #004015.
When in Colorado Kara calls Pulpit Rock home and volunteers to help lead our students in PRiSM.