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WAU Student Missionary Returns With Brand New Attitude

Story by Ryan Jackson
Published 7/16/12


Kellie Dehm, a nursing major, spent 10 months caring for orphans in Tanzania.
Kellie Dehm, Washington Adventist University’s (WAU) first student missionary in six years, is back from Tanzania with a slew of new experiences, new perspectives and a new attitude. Dehm, who left the school’s Takoma Park, Md.-campus last August, determined to answer the call to service, spent the last 10 months at the Havilah Village Orphanage in Arusha. The Allegheny East Conference’s  Emmanuel-Brinklow church in Ashton, Md., sponsors the orphanage.

For Dehm it was a huge change of pace from the busyness of life near the capital of the United States to the small African village with no Internet service and no hot water.

“I want to step out in faith and do what I felt God was impressing on me to do,” Dehm said then of her decision to make the dramatic lifestyle change, albeit a temporary one. “I want to be God’s vessel so He can touch lives through me. I want to grow with the people of Arusha.”
 
 With the experience now behind her, Dehm is sanguine about the lessons learned. “I … went to Africa and became a mother,” says the 20-year-old nursing major, describing her days taking care of a house of 10 children. “I spent the first few months wanting to come home, and now that I’m home, I want to go back, to my kids.”
 
A typical day started at 6 a.m., with Dehm cooking breakfast and seeing some of her children off to school. Once the school-aged children left, it was time to feed the younger ones and perform her “motherly” chores—tidying up the house, doing the laundry, making lunch and taking the kids to the playground. Her day ended around 8: 30 p.m., after dinner and worship and all the kids were put to bed.
 
Despite what may seem like a tedious experience to some, Dehm says she has few regrets. In fact, she is already making plans to go back to visit her Tanzania family. Asked what she would change about her experience, she says: “Just the first five months because I made it about myself and not about the kids.”
 
Dehm is hoping that many others will answer the call to service in places as far-flung as her tiny African village. Her advice to those who wish to do the same is simply to be open and ready, and willing for anything to happen. “Bad things are always going to happen, and things won’t always go the way you want,” she says. “You have to find the good in every situation.”

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