LAUP stories_005 | One day, fourteen hours

Trusting the voice of God is as simple as believing it is real.



It started in Econ, when I was a senior in high school. 17 years old, talking about college, and hearing Mimi was going to go to Long Beach State.

As soon as she told me, I knew I made a mistake. I could feel it in my gut, as my heart dropped into my stomach. I should have applied.

But by now it was too late. So I went where I applied, and that would silence that thought for awhile.

One day, fourteen hours//

Something happened this summer.

God stirred up things in me that had only been tiny back of the brain ideas before. Little, “what-if’s”, passing, “I could see myself doing that” kind of thoughts.

My college story is pretty long, but starts with trusting the little pull in my stomach that came from God.

I tend to go for the quickest and least involved route I can possibly find. So, when it came time for me to pick a college, I chose to go to a state school, because I wouldn’t have to write an essay.

I went to San Francisco State for my first year of college.

And that year, I went home every single weekend, and really really hated school.

I tried to drop out.

But my parents equated a college education to getting a driver’s license: everyone in this house is getting one.

So I did the next best thing for my homesick heart: I moved back.

I went to a community college, and for a year I was comfortable. I got to sleep in my own bed, walk my dogs, eat the food my family prepared for me.

Until I had to apply again for a school to transfer to.

My dream at that time was to become a famous movie director. It’s what I’d been going to school for, the last two years.

And I knew that eventually, I would have to go to Los Angeles. That’s where the business was, and that was where I had to be to have the success I was timidly chasing.

In fact, I’d been daydreaming about it, romanticizing the idea of packing up my car in the middle of the night and driving down myself, letting go of school and escaping the strange limbo of childhood and growing up I was stuck in;

you see, as much as I loved being home, it still wasn’t an easy place to be.

Growing independence and annoyance at being told what to do was the push I needed to jump out of the nest.

So I applied to one school, a state school, one that did not require an essay, one that I had heard about two years earlier, from Mimi.

And in Fall of 2015, I was in a dorm room again, 330 miles from home, at a school right next to the beach.

My first semester at Long Beach was rough. I had no friends and no reasonable way to get home every weekend. 

I called my mom in tears on my first day telling her I how miserable I was.

She asked me if I should come home.

And I said no.

Deep down, I knew that I had to do this. I was supposed to be in Long Beach. I had to get through it, I had to be here.

I met a an odd pair of boys named Michael and Jacob, a Filipino college grad and Jewish math major, ate some hot dogs with them, and then joined their Tuesday night bible study. 

By the middle of the Spring semester, I was knee deep in this Christian fellowship called InterVarsity, and my ideals and career thoughts got challenged and shook as I was learning about what a life living out the bible looked like.

I realized quite quickly that I did not actually want to be a famous movie director – that I was chasing the wrong things with that career goal. What I saw for years and hoped for in becoming a famous movie director was success, and with that success, filthy riches

InterVarsity tore down what I thought would be happiness in being rich. My motivation for making money was completely self-centered. And after I realized that, and saw what was bringing me joy, what was picking me up from my “new town blues”, was centered around community and sharing and people

All I wanted after that year was to be a Christian. I wanted to put that at the top of my list of values and reasonings for doing things.

I spent my senior year of college growing in my spirituality, leading a bible study, joining the worship team, and building a strong Christian community that I knew would last forever. After graduating, I went on my first big mission trip in West Long Beach, where I taught lower-income kiddos for six-weeks.

The trip was transformative, and I wanted more of it.

In the middle of my trip, my friend Beth asked me in a letter if I wanted to go with her to Africa in 2018 and teach kids for two years.

“I think we make a good team… and I think you would really like this.”

My heart skipped more than a beat at that offer.

When LAUP ended, a new limbo started: post-grad life.

I knew that coming out of LAUP, I would need to start looking for work immediately, and  I did do that, but right away it felt like anything I applied to was an interim job, before I went on another, longer mission trip.

I hadn’t said out loud that I wanted to go to Malawi, but in my head and in my heart, I knew I wanted to go.

A lot like that feeling when Mimi told me that she was going to Long Beach,

I could feel God saying that Malawi was where I should go next.

So here I am now. I’m going to Malawi in July with Beth to teach fifth grade and even a few elective film classes to high schoolers! I’m nervous to move again, to leave behind my family again, but I have a feeling it’s going to be just as transformative and life changing as moving to Long Beach was. 

God tends to do things like that.



p.s. it takes approximately one day, fourteen hours to get there. come visit!


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