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Steps of Obedience—Why Did I End Up Here?

Thankfully, not a plane I’ve ever traveled on.

In the first half of 2018, I traveled a lot—hopping on a plane here or there. I spent one full month in three countries in Asia. In April, I ignorantly posted on Instagram: “Goodbye to planes for now, on to the adventure of staying put.” God had other plans.

In part one, I shared how God pushed me out of “staying put” through a dream given to a colleague and friend, to me reluctantly dragging my feet to get on a plane and teach at Faith Academy for a year. In part two I told a story of Bards, the barber, who took a small step of obedience, which God used to grow the kingdom.

Now, in part 3, I will share about my “dramatic” and “fruitless” 2018-2019 school year.

My world didn’t change. I didn’t change the world. But God did have me there for a reason—maybe not life-changing but meaningful.

A Roller Coaster State of Mind

My first month, I felt broken and alone. This was a country and community I knew and loved, but all I could think was—why am I here?

The view of Manila, Philippines from Faith Academy.

Tweeting My Emotions

Here’s a series of tweets to explain my state of mind:

  • “Currently trying hard to not start weeping in front of strangers.” 7/28/18
  • “I’ve become a frog murderer. Well … vehicular frog-slaughter anyway.” 8/11/18
  • “Today a lizard fell on my head. I screamed. We both made it out alive.” 8/27/18
  • “Sometimes the hardest part of being 14 hours ahead of friends and family is when I really want to talk, they’re all sleeping.” 9/5/18
Local, and delicious, cuisine.
  • “Having a bad day because the internet fails and you can’t be a part of a big family event, then God hits you with a ‘serve when needed not when convenient’ at church, which reminds you why you’re across the world. Ugh, let me wallow, dude.” 9/15/18
  • “I’ve been in the Philippines for less than two months. Here’s everything that’s broken: sunglasses, a decorative plate, the car (3 times), 2 pairs of sandals, my real glasses, and today my backpack. Oh … and my spirit. 9/19/18 – “Update … my phone screen cracked.” 9/24/18
  • “’How Great is Our God’ sung in 7 languages. Pretty cool day teaching at an international school.” 10/23/18

If you continued to look at my socials that year, ups and downs become a trend. But here’s what you wouldn’t see.

So, What Happened?

Classroom artwork

I lived with my second family all year. A family a cherish. I don’t want to go into too many details, but due to a critical health need, they were out of the country until Thanksgiving. I cared for their house, car, dog, etc. I was able to be the guardian for their youngest, a 16-year-old young man, so he only missed a quarter of school. He was able to play the sports he loved and be at home. I like to think in this small way I brought them help and peace in a stressful time.

I loved teaching. I had enjoyed mentoring and discipling kids before, but the teaching didn’t feel natural. This year, I was passionate about what I was teaching, I loved my students, and I even tolerated grading! I had a great lead teacher who encouraged me. It wasn’t all perfect, but it healed my relationship with the school and the classroom.

I co-coached an amazing volleyball team of high school boys. It was great to see them grow on and off the court. The head coach taught me a lot about what it means to care for kids as whole people, not just athletes or students.

Volleyball awards night

I went deeper in friendships. And made new friends, which I didn’t expect.

I like to think my being at Faith Academy that year brought something into the lives of my family, friends, coworkers, and students. I know I was made better because of them.

Puerto Galera, Philippines.

Not a Life Changed, but a Life Full

No miracles happened. I didn’t see traditional fruit. But I walked in obedience. God had a purpose for me. A purpose I may never know the full extent of. He wasn’t asking me to change the world. He was asking me to be obedient to him.

My invitation to you is to quiet your heart and mind to listen to the Lord. He will speak. We obey. God will do great things, whether you see them or not.


Kelli, Journalist, US-Mobilization Center