"Jenny, I've decided what I'm going to do with my life," Janna announced, as she entered our apartment.
Four bemused pairs of eyes looked up from the card game.
"What's that?" asked Mary.
"I'm going to do a DTS for YWAM in Australia!" said Janna excitedly. "They've got a six-month program starting in October, so I just have to apply. Since I got my passport last year, it should be no problem."
"What's a DTS?" asked Jonathan.
"Discipleship Training School," I said. "They learn about doing missions and stuff, and usually there's a ministry trip involved. I went to Russia for mine." I half wondered if my frequent referrals to my trip had influenced Janna's decision. Yet would one trip really change her life?
"Not only will I get to learn how to surf, but I may get to do my ministry trip in Fiji!" Janna practically danced across the room.
"You didn't learn to surf in California?" asked Mary in surprise.
"No, I grew up closer to the mountains. We hardly ever went to the beach," Janna said as she pulled a chair to the table.
"Four out of the five most deadly spiders are found in Australia," Spencer volunteered. I stifled a laugh as Janna's eyes grew wide, pondering that tidbit of information.
As I reached for the pile of cards to shuffle the deck, I reassured Janna. "I'm sure they won't let you die from a spider bite. Besides, you're going there to obtain a new direction for your life, not necessarily for all the surfing and play time, right?"
"Well, yeah. Of course," she responded. "But the surfing bit is definitely a major perk. The only downside is that I'm going during the winter. I hope the water's not too cold."
This time I laughed aloud, as Spencer's eyes lit up with fresh ammunition for teasing. We all knew Janna to be every bit the "Valley Girl" one might expect to come from California. "Oh yeah, Janna. I'm sure it'll be around forty degrees, which is just a bit cooler than the water around here...." he began.
In mercy I cut him off. "You don't have to worry about that. Australia is in the Southern Hemisphere, dear. Their seasons are opposite of ours."
Her face brightened. "For real? So....that means I'll have summer all year long!"
"Lucky," stated Jonathan. "I wish my job would let me go to Australia for six months."
"Oh, I'm definitely leaving my job. Who knows what I'll be called to do next?" Janna said.
"But how are you going to pay for it?" asked Mary. "I imagine it's awfully expensive just for the plane ticket alone!"
"Well, I'll work extra hours at the diner all summer, and I'm going to do some fundraising, and find some people to support me while I'm over there. It's all about faith, and trusting God to provide." Janna's enthusiasm could not be diminished.
Nor did it decrease as the months passed. I watched my roommate change from a girl obsessed with boys and music and makeup to a young woman focusing her life on spiritual disciplines.
She posted a map of the world on her wall and scoured both the library and the internet for information on Australia and Fiji. She began rising an hour earlier to take a walk and intercede.
Tropical fruits, various seafood, and meat pies filled her half of the refrigerator. Everyone she talked to quickly knew everything they ever wanted to learn about Australia, including the names of the top five deadly spiders.
She worked extra hours at the diner. A list of donors and monthly supporters appeared on the fridge, and she constantly updated her support letter. "First Australia, then the world!" she recited to herself.
As I walked with her to the security lines of the airport, I observed the unquenchable passion in her eyes for the experience soon to be hers. I hugged her tightly. "I'm going to miss you, with your silly meat pies!"
"Jenny, I think I already know what I'm doing next. I'm going to be a full-time missionary."
"Of course you are." I blinked back tears. "Write me and let me know how it goes."
Who would have thought that one trip to Australia could change a girl's life? Today I understand. It was not the trip itself, but her goal of submission to God which transformed my material roommate into a missionary to reach the world for Christ.
Deadly spiders and all!
YWAM: Youth With A Mission (a interdenominational, international missions organization that encourages young people to reach the world for Christ through evangelism and mercy ministry)
DTS: Discipleship Training School (an intensive Christian training course through YWAM designed with a 12-week classroom phase followed by a 12-week outreach)
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