This term was familiar for Ariel as she made her way through her teen years at an academic-centric high school.  It wasn’t that she had no drive for her education, just no interest in the scholastic avenues presented to her; she craved to follow a path all her own.

She connected with a boy who would become a long term relationship for her, but meanwhile struggled with her parents over her assumed lack of direction. She was encouraged to start working towards a financially stable career, and though she landed multiple well-paying jobs, her boredom was never quenched.  She felt stuck–living with her boyfriend, relationship with her parents severed and feeling dry in her work, as if “the wheels were turning but nothing in her life was moving forward”.

Ariel found herself at Eastside, hearing about the Global Compassion trips that lead to her to apply for Chile. The first half of her time in South America, Ariel felt misunderstood and couldn’t understand why until traveling down to the rural, mountain town of Ralco for the second part of the missions trip.

It was in Ralco that an incredibly special communion ceremony took place: the sacrificing of a live lamb.  The calm animal was lead to the butcher’s knife in sacrifice that day, and as Ariel gazed upon the innocent sheep as it gave it’s life, the entire picture of Jesus made clear, perfect sense.

In the stillness of that moment, as Ariel gazed at the vast Andes mountains and heard God say to stop worrying about her life, to focus instead on Him. “Okay” was her sole response, anything to keep this divine feeling of being understood and fulfilled from departing.

She suddenly understood why she had felt so out of touch from the team earlier in the trip, that she had been “looking for fulfillment in earthly relationships.”  And now all she could focus on what how to stay in this newfound place with God!

When she returned to the States she was lead to end her seven-year relationship with her high school boyfriend and move back in with her parents, asking her Step Dad if she could call him “Dad” from now on.

Though these decisions came surprisingly naturally, Ariel didn’t know what else was next for her, until she discovered a bachelor’s degree in Intercultural Studies at Hope University. She applied and saw God provide for her every need: her acceptance to the university, funds to pay for it, and positions as the Campus Pastor’s Assistant and Missions Intern that she held until just recently when she accepted an internship position in the Global Compassion Department at Eastside!

“Before I would pray and expect God to bless the decisions I was making, but they were my decisions. Now, I pray and wait for His response, then focus on being obedient to that call.”

Ariel’s story is one of courage, bravery and trust, of finding the truth of living a life with Jesus at her side, and that it is the key to living a life bursting with purpose and fulfillment.