This article was originally published by The Mennonite

Piecing together God’s plan

Katie Gillmore is a Kansas native currently serving with Mennonite Voluntary Service’s unit near Aibonito, Puerto Rico. She works for Academia Menonita Betania, a bilingual school founded in 1947 by two Mennonite missionary teachers. Katie spends her time at Academia Menonita Betania helping communicate the school’s unique value and aspirations. She enjoys glimpsing God’s goodness in nature on daily runs and underwater as a scuba diver. Katie cheers for the Kansas State Wildcats and is a member of the Eden Mennonite Church of Moundridge, Kansas. 

I was walking into my parents’ house before my grandpa’s funeral visitation on June 27 when I realized I had a voicemail from an odd phone number. I listened and was pleasantly surprised to hear Alex from Puerto Rico wanting to talk about Mennonite Voluntary Service. I was in a rush to be in Moundridge for the funeral visitation, but we found time to talk later and Alex confirmed the news: I would be serving a year with Mennonite Voluntary Service’s new unit in Puerto Rico.

Several weeks before the funeral, as I found myself in a career void, I was mindlessly scrolling Facebook when the words “Mennonite Voluntary Service” and “Puerto Rico” caught my eye, thanks to my friend, Alyssa Schrag.

I had always thought about service over the years, but I pushed the thought to the back of my mind as I focused on my career and paying off my student loans. Alyssa’s post made me curious, so I did some additional research over the next few days.

I prayed and reflected on what I felt. Small pieces seemed to fit together, but I had doubts. I shared the lukewarm idea with a few close friends and was delighted by the support. I started to believe that Mennonite Voluntary Service could be possible for me. I decided to move forward with applying. I was not fully committed yet, but willing to rent the idea for the time being.

“’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Jeremiah 29:11

My church mentor since middle school, Sondra Tolle, presented me with a beautiful space-themed quilt with Jeremiah 29:11 on the back as a gift for my high school graduation. The verse has been a favorite of mine ever since. Sondra and her husband, Bob, embarked on a renewed life of service just over a year ago. They left careers, sold their home and signed on to be Service Adventure unit leaders in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where they continue serving today.

It seemed easy to see God’s plan at work in others as I considered my own future. I wanted to question the path I felt God was calling me on in favor of what was comfortable and uncomplicated: staying in Hutchinson and continuing on a career path in the sales and marketing profession.

However, God’s plan was becoming slowly, but surely clearer to me. As I pondered over Mennonite Voluntary Service, my grandpa’s health quickly declined. I reflected on the ways he lived out his faith, from his time in Civilian Public Service to his retirement years spent volunteering for countless other organizations.

I felt the conclusion of my grandpa’s life was an unavoidable road sign for my own. Along with other countless signs God planted in my life, I no longer wanted to just rent the idea of Mennonite Voluntary Service; I was ready to embrace God’s plan.

Since Alex delivered the news of my service assignment, I began a rush of final preparations for Puerto Rico. I packed and moved the contents of my apartment, including that special quilt from Sondra, took some final memory-making trips with friends, and said many goodbyes during my last weeks in Kansas. This time period was challenging, but I found peace knowing much more of God’s plan for me was soon to be realized.

Since arriving in Puerto Rico several weeks ago, I am blessed to be living out the joys and challenges of God’s plan for my life now and I’m looking forward to continuing on his path.

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