On April 20, 2013, I was at the Discernment-Interview-Placement event to learn more about the YAGM program and continue in the process of deciding if I would, indeed, move somewhere across the world as Young Adult in Global Mission.

An excerpt from my journal that day reads: “It almost seems like [a YAGM year] isn’t actually an opportunity to give back, but instead an opportunity for YAGMs to learn and grow and bring that back to the U.S.”

The weekend ended with Pastor Heidi Torgerson-Martinez, Director of YAGM, announcing what country programs we had each been placed in. On the plane ride home later that day, I wrote: “I am moving to South Africa. That sentence looks even crazier written down than it sounds when I say it out loud!”

And now, here I am, one year later. I finished my career as an undergraduate at ASU, graduated, and started my YAGM year. And, among countless other lessons, I have learned that I was right in my suspicions about YAGM a year ago.

I have learned that this program is, indeed, not a chance for me to give back. I could never give as much to my communities here as they have given to me. I have learned and grown and plan to bring back stories of my communities and God’s work in the world. 

I did move to South Africa, and it is still crazy, and I am so very thankful.