Young women spending summer sharing God’s word

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 17, 1998

Rebecca Burk Ellis / L’Observateur / July 17, 1998

LAPLACE – Sandy Bushman is still getting used to the heat of South Louisiana’s summers, while Erica Smith is already there.

Both are 19 and serving as summer missionaries at First Baptist Church of LaPlace, and to them the weather isn’t the only thing that’s hot. Asmissionaries, both are on fire to share God’s word.

Bushman is from Burbank, Calif., and Smith lives right here in LaPlace.Another similarity between the two, besides their age and fact that they’re missionaries, is the profession they are both pursuing. Both wantto be educators.

Bushman attends Pasadena City College in California and plans on becoming an elementary teacher. Smith goes to Southeastern LouisianaUniversity and is majoring in English education.

Both want to be teachers, but because they are now missionaries, they are waiting for approval from the Lord. “I decided I was going to be a teacherbecause I really like kids, but I don’t know if God wants me to do that,” Bushman said. “What if God wants me to be one of those missionaries inAfrica?” Bushman said she was influenced to be a summer missionary by the missionaries that came to her church – Central Baptist Church – for a week in the summers to help with Vacation Bible School.

“I thought it was a really good idea,” she said. “And that maybe this issomething that God wants me to do, too.”So she applied to be a summer missionary with the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, but after months of waiting and no letter of approval, she gave up the idea. Then one day, abouta month before she was supposed to leave, she got a letter of approval saying that she would serve in LaPlace.

“I was like where is LaPlace,” she said, laughing. “It was really weirdthat that letter came because I had resigned myself to the fact that I wasn’t going to go.”She’s been in LaPlace since May 27 helping with the summer children’s ministry at the church. Her program lasts 10 weeks, so she will return toCalifornia Aug. 8. She has been staying with a different church family eachweek.

Bushman said she’s not really homesick, although she was disappointed that she missed her sister’s high school graduation.

“I thought it was going to be really hard, but I haven’t been terribly homesick,” she said. “I’ve never been out of California and the longest Ihave ever been away from home is for a weekend.

“Now I can say that I have been in California, Louisiana, Texas – because my flight had a layover there – and Mississippi. It’s good to expand myknowledge of the world.”Smith also went with Bushman and many others on an adventurous children’s trip to King’s Arrow Ranch, where the children rode horseback, canoed and went fishing, along with fellowship and worship experiences.

They also attended children’s camp for a week with the children.

Besides coordinating activities for the first- through sixth-graders, the two missionaries are helping with some of the pre-school activities and are also teachers of the Wednesday night fellowship for children called Team Kid. “It’s never a dull moment,” Bushman said.Smith got the opportunity to be a summer missionary at her home church because the Rev. Major Speights, pastor at First Baptist, asked her toapply.

“One day Brother Major said that he had an opening for a summer missionary and asked me if I was interested in doing it,” Smith said. “So Iprayed about it and applied. When I got accepted, I got kind of nervousabout the job. But God told me that He would take care of me and told menot to rely on myself, but to rely on Him.”Smith, who joined the church Feb. 8, said the mission opportunity hasopened many doors for her.

“I didn’t really know that many people because I haven’t been a member that long,” Smith said. “But now I am getting to know the children andother people.”Both missionaries are glad the Lord has given them this opportunity and realize that it is a great responsibility.

“It’s more than taking a ride in a car and chaperoning kids,” Smith said.

“Sometimes it gets a little stressful because the kids miss their moms or dads. I’ve been having a lot of fun, though.””You really realize what a role model you are because these kids really look up to you,” Bushman said.

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