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The Road Less Traveled

by Naomi Garcia 

A month after I turned 18, I graduated from high school. Normally, my next sentence would be about either a crazy summer or the college I would attend in the fall. Instead, I am about to talk about my decision to take “the road less traveled by.” I pray that you too will consider this road, if not for yourself than for others in your life. I am spending a year at Open Arms serving the people of Baja California, Mexico—the little ones mostly, but hey I’m all for adults too! I made this decision for two reasons. First and foremost, I came to Mexico because God called me to the mission field. However, I am not sure how, exactly, to go down that path; thus, I am at Open Arms absorbing information, learning, and making some friends. The second reason is more worldly: this job fits me.

 Since second grade, I have known I was called to the mission field. I have often struggled with this calling. I wholeheartedly accepted it, but deep down I doubted whether I would actually follow it, since I was also chasing that American Dream lifestyle. I didn’t know if mission work would be something I did to discover myself in my youth, or maybe as an annual summer activity. I often worried about what type of job I would have to support this lifestyle (I was a very realistic kid). For a while, I actually became so absorbed in trying to find a career that suited me that I forgot my calling. I could never find that dream job, mostly because I am maternal at my core and would be pleased to watch kids and cook pasta all day. People who knew me told me to become a social worker, which I have no problem with, but I know it won’t be the only hat I will wear in my lifetime. I spent a long time pretending to everyone that I would be something or another when I grew up.

Finally, I went on a mission’s trip to Open Arms. I got away from small-town America and spent a week in a foggy beach town in Mexico. I discovered a place where my talents and passions came together. When I got home, I admitted I was clueless about my upcoming future. A lot of people prayed with me and I made the decision to apply to be an intern at OA. I got the job, raised the funds, and came down four months after I had first visited. I personally believe in the amazing effect mission trips have on the body of Christ. The idea of a gap year hasn’t really taken off outside of Europe, but I encourage you to consider taking one. For any high school senior out there, I want to ask you: Why not? We were told to do this kind of stuff by Christ Himself, to not just talk the talk but to walk the walk. For the parents of a student considering taking a year off, I can guarantee that it is not a waste of time, nor will it have a negative effect on your child’s life. My parents hope I will go to college this fall, and I am open to the idea, but being here in Mexico, looking with faith and not sight, I can see that the things that I do here are more valuable than a career that only serves to make money.

There is a quote by Jim Elliot that drives me and sums up everything I’ve said here: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”


(Naomi is one of our missionary interns who has almost completed her year first with us. Her main responsibilities have been to love on all of our babies, toddlers, and teach a preschool English class. She also works with our many missions teams.)