For those of you who don’t know, Abante is a program that is focused on creating marketplace missionaries through a nine month program where discipleship is the primary focus.
So for many of you who don’t know how I made it into this program, this is how. As long as I can remember, in our high school church summer camp they played a promotional video for Abante, but they always called seniors for more information, so I never paid too much attention to it. My freshman year, a guy from my youth group, Quay Jennings, went to Abante, however I did not make the connection. Quay returned for the summer, while I was off at my dads, so we never had a chance to connect. The following year, Quay went as an intern and later became a spokesperson for Abante, which additionally perked my interest. Regardless, they still only wanted seniors and I was a sophomore. The summer of sophomore year, I was able to go to Guatemala on a medical mission trip, where I began to become more interested in missions. Junior year passed by without anything special happening. That brings us to junior year summer where my life was flipped upside down.
So, the summer of junior year, I went to church youth camp as normal. Abante was not as this youth camp, but I already was thinking about applying, because of how it had shown up in my life so far. On the trip back home, my pastor called me up to the front of the bus. He told me that an interesting opportunity had opened up. They had a program happening in two or three weeks called the Eagles Initiative. It was a Christian leadership class in Washington D.C. The church was going to send a girl, but the only applicable one couldn’t go. They decided to ask and it perfectly worked out with my schedule. So, I went to Eagles and had a great time. While there, I met a Mr. Brian Schlottmann, the president of Abante. We got to talking because of my interest, and I decided that it seemed like an amazing program and that I was interested. My main issue was that it cost a lot of money, so God would have to help me out financially. So, I started considering it for my first year of college. Then began my senior year.
School had been in session for about two weeks or so, when my mom pulled me aside. She wanted me to start applying for schools and programs, so we started working on it. One of the programs was Abante. I fill out a form of interest and mention that I was a part of the Eagles Initiative. This was on a Sunday night. Monday night, I’m working at Publix, when I get a text from Mr. Brian. He asks me a bunch of questions for next year, and I start telling him about my life. At the end of the conversation, he tells me that this season of Abante was a very special year. They would have a baby on the team and the program was adjusted for him. The program was now six months, safer, and most importantly, $9,000 dollars cheaper. To me, this was a huge sign, so I brought it to my mom’s attention. She said she would get back to me. What happened next is nothing short of God’s will and a lot of chaos. She said I was allowed to pursue it. And so began one of the most stressful and packed weeks in my life, but I still had a peace about me. I knew that God was calling me to do this and he was opening doors, so I had nothing to be worried about.
Well that was Tuesday, so Wednesday was the day when I started figuring stuff out. I go to the school and wait for my principal to get there. My mom and I go to her office and explain the situation. To my surprise, her first question is “Do you feel that God is calling you to this?” I say yes and she pulls out a sticky note and starts working it out. Thanks to all of the college classes, I only needed two classes to graduate, so that made the transition very easy. So, aside from some forms I had to sign, school had worked out perfectly. The main other obstacle that I had to get past was my dad. I explained the situation to him and his response can best be summed up as, “You’ll turn 18 while you’re gone, so you can make your own choice.” I understand his reluctance and that he in a big way was playing devil’s advocate, but it really did suck that he never really seemed to be happy about it. I understand though. I don’t harbor a grudge against him for it; I just wish he had been a bit more supportive. Regardless, I had his support too. Basically, God had been opening doors all over the place. It made the transition seamless. By Wednesday night, I knew I was leaving for good.
Thursday came, I said goodbye to all my friends, that was hard. It was a lot harder than I expected, but I did it and played the rock. I acted strong so they could be weak. Luckily, I knew God was behind it, so I was just as excited as I was sad, so acting that way was easy. After that, I got a haircut, quit my job, and started collecting what I needed to leave. On Friday, we finished the packing and got ready. Saturday came, and I left home, one that I wouldn’t see for another six months. I never really miss things like that if I don’t think about it, but as I’m writing it, I can’t help tearing up thinking about everything I left. Anyway, we drove to Montgomery, where I got to spend an hour and a half with my dad, stepmom, and brother before leaving. Then, we made it to McCalla, Alabama, where the training was happening. I said goodbye to my mom, stepfather, and sister, and that was that. In a week, my life had flipped upside down. On Sunday, I expected my senior year to go one way and now I’m in South Korea.
Well, that’s how I got here, and that’s where I’ll leave it for now. There’s another week of training to detail before I even leave for Korea. That’s all for now though, so have a nice day. Lots of love from Korea, Baker