Emory Kelley

God’s Work in My Life

How do you pack eight months of life-changing experiences into a page? This is the question I asked myself as I set out to write another article before leaving Palawan. So much has happened since I filled out an application to become a student missionary—both challenging and fun—here in the mountains of Palawan. Seeing God at work in my life in ways I would have never imagined has been amazing: from working in the clinic in Kemantian and learning a new language to teaching and serving as the on-site nurse in the village of Merma, it has been an adventure. Through it all, my Savior has been by my side.
In Kemantian, with friends and family far away and seemingly one difficulty after another, the Lord helped me learn that you do not give up when struggling to keep everything going. You just take things one day at a time. Life keeps moving. Things don’t get better if you just sit still. I had to keep getting up and going to work at the clinic, practicing the new language and trying to find ways to be a blessing to others.

Another significant aspect of my work in Kemantian was learning to accept that God is in charge, and sometimes you have to be willing to roll with whatever happens. With about an hour’s notice, I twice found myself hiking out of the mountains to care for patients flown to a hospital in the lowlands. The first time I did this, the patient had been critically injured and needed constant care. I functioned as his personal CNA (certified nursing assistant), living in the hospital with him. I was challenged by living alone in the big city located four hours north of AFM’s project and by language skills that were still rudimentary. Although things were not always easy, I knew I was never truly alone.

After working and learning on the job in the Kemantian clinic from January through the first half of April, I moved to the beautiful village of Merma’ during the last half of the month. Living in Merma’ wasn’t easy: no bathroom or outhouse, no running water, and the trails were all much more difficult than in Kemantian. My responsibilities there were also much greater than in Kemantian. I taught in the one-room school and served as a nurse/doctor/paramedic for that area. Caring for one of my patients consisted of slipping and sliding along wet, muddy trails two hours away, sleeping overnight in a tiny hut and getting my patient flown to a hospital in the lowlands. Although life in Merma’ was sometimes difficult, going there was one of the greatest blessings of my life. God was with me, and the people there became the family I needed. I care about them deeply and miss them.

When I first considered taking this student missionary journey, I had no idea what the future held. I did not know that by the time I was preparing to go, my life in the U.S. would be in shambles and that I would need a change. I did not know there were important lessons to learn and a family to meet on the other side of the world. I only knew I had a strong feeling that it was God’s will for me to go, and I stepped out onto that path. But my Savior and my Friend did know those things. If you are considering student missions, I recommend you choose to go. God has amazing plans for you. No, it will not be easy, but He will be by your side through it all. And if you let God work, you will leave stronger than you were when you arrived.

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