A mission to become a missionary

Quesada (leftmost) poses with her adopted sister and a friend in a church activity.

When someone has been going to church for almost their entire life, they are known as a “kingdom kid.” As one of these kids, senior Angelica Quesada contemplated the idea of becoming a ministry worker and dedicating her life to God. Now in her last year of high school as a junior-turned senior, she is taking initiative by delving further into the church life and planning the path to be a missionary in the future.

Quesada has been actively involved in her church from a young age, learning about her faith by participating in Bible studies and youth ministries.

“Hearing about Jesus dying on the cross tends to get really watered down, since [I] constantly hear it,” Quesada said. “But I didn’t know what it really meant until I participated in [the studies] to become a disciple of the church. I gained a lot of gratification for the cross, and giving up my life for Jesus no longer seemed like a chore and instead a privilege.”

Unsatisfied with the slow pace of high school, Quesada wanted to take a missionary trip and experience spiritual enlightenment. During her sophomore year, she heard that some would-be juniors were skipping a grade and graduating as seniors. Quesada joked with her friends about becoming a senior the following school year. However, she soon began to consider the option as a possible alternative to the traditional 4-year path.

“It took a lot of researching, brainstorming, help from my mom and [praying]. Even then, [this route] is still pretty tentative,” Quesada said. “My parents have been really supportive; my mom especially has helped me formulate the plan. They have backed me on basically every situation, and I am so grateful for that. My friends have been supportive too. Although sometimes they tease me about it, I can always count on them to cheer me on.”

By skipping junior year, Quesada has more free time to pursue her divinity studies and prepare for college ministry. Her church youth group leader has been instructing her on how to lead youth ministries. She has also attended church leadership conferences, during which she learns how to lead others closer to God and stay spiritually fulfilled. She hears stories from other leaders who share their experiences and bonds with ministry staff.

“I really wanted to get going on college and speed up the process to be able to focus on the missionary trip,” Quesada said. “I thought, ‘What’s the point of staying in high school an extra year, wasting time on classes that I will just have to take again in college?’ Plus I really am looking forward to the college campus ministry at my church. The teen ministry is awesome, and I love our leaders, but I really admire the unique and deep relationships the campus [ministry] has.”

While Quesada is taking an off-beat track in high school to plan for missionary work in the future, she still aims on attending Mt. San Antonio College as a special admit to fulfill general education class requirements. After transferring to a four-year college and earning her bachelor’s degree in sports medicine, she will travel to Norway for a missionary trip. The missionary program she is looking to join after college allows her to serve in the name of God while acquiring a master’s degree in medical administration or physical therapy.

“I’m excited to move on from high school,” Quesada said. “I mean, it is a little scary knowing that I’ll have to face adulthood pretty soon, but I know my friends and family will always have my back. I know what I want, and I know God’s plan is whatever that is right for me. That was kind why I decide to become a missionary; along with a childhood dream, I found no greater joy than to give my life fully and completely to God.”

In Norway, Quesada plans on helping to rebuild the ministry site, providing teens with spiritual leadership and giving them training complementary to what she received at leadership conferences.

“I find a lot of joy in working with people and spreading the Gospel,” Quesada said. “It’s amazing to be able to see how God can change someone’s life so significantly. I think missionary work will always keep me focused on a goal larger than myself and be something I can always enjoy. I’m not worried [about my path] because as long as I pray about it, God will open doors and guide me along the way.”

By Angela Zhang, Staff writer

Photo courtesy of Angelica Quesada