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How I Found My Purpose on a High School Missions Trip

How I Found My Purpose on a High School Missions Trip

"What are you going to do after high school?"

At fifteen years old, I expected people would only ask me about my life's purpose when I graduated. Nope. I had two whole years of high school to go, but teachers—and strangers—started asking me "What's next?" as if it was the same as "How's the weather?".

The truth was, I had no idea what I was going to do after graduation. I liked kids, and enjoyed school (shocking, I know). Teacher? I wasn't fully convinced. Missions was definitely up there, but I knew university was a good idea for teaching.

With these questions still unanswered, I hopped on a plane to Southeast Asia.

A group from my high school was about to spend three weeks of our summer in Cambodia to serve in orphanages, schools, and slums. Even though I grew up hearing about "short-term missions trips", it was my first time actually going on one.

It was the smell that hit me first. Smoked chicken, old garbage, and durian (if you know, you know)—I was shocked, then fascinated. For those three weeks, I felt like a fish in water. Yes, garbage wasn't the worst thing I smelled, and being in a completely new country wasn't always a breeze. Yet as I danced with children in the dust of slums, to a soundtrack of shy giggles and bold laughter—I couldn't get enough.

This is where I'm meant to be.

But it was at the primary school where it all made sense. We had just spent the morning making animal puppets, and I posed for a quick photo with the students. I'd learned many of the children would be on the streets, vulnerable to trafficking, if it not for the teachers there.

Suddenly, even though I was fifteen, I just knew.

I really do want to be a teacher.


In the last ten years, I graduated university with a teaching degree, and now I'm in full-time missions. Did I go back to Cambodia? No, not to teach (not yet, anyway!), but I visited again (photo above). However, since then, God uncovered my purpose even more, step by step. Instead of traveling to one nation, I've lead similar teams to rainforests of the Pacific and villages in the Himalayas. I've seen young people come alive just like I have—and now, on our media team, I get to share their stories.


But it all started when I was fifteen. 

Where did it start for you? And what's your next step?


It could be closer than you think.


We partner with Mission Adventures to provide short-term overseas mission experiences for school, church, or youth groups. Each trip is custom designed to give groups the best possible experience while challenging them to grow in a safe environment. To apply for a group or find out more, click here


Published at Nov 16, 2018 . Authored by: Kayla Norris | YWAM Furnace NZ Media