Tabor counselor pursues calling for mission with Pie Night fundraiser
It’s safe to assume that when Jesus’s disciples received the “Great Commission” to take the Gospel to the rest of the world, none of them rushed home to throw a scrumptious cherry pie into the oven.
However, 2,000 years later, they have an enthusiastic accomplice, Tabor College admissions counselor Jessica Garcia, who hopes a revival of Pie Night from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday at the historic church on campus will help to propel her to a new chapter of discipleship with MB Mission in Canada and beyond.
Garcia, a southern California native who came to Tabor in 2012, is no stranger to the work of MB Mission.
“I did the Trek program last year; I was in the Philippines,” she said. “That sparked an interest, and I wanted to know what happens behind the scenes, what it takes to send missionaries and support them in the field.”
Garcia is raising funds to support a 13-month mission internship at the MB Mission office in Abbotsford, British Columbia, near Vancouver, which she hopes to start this summer.
She’ll be processing applications and contacting potential mission participants, planning events, promoting MB Mission programs in the Vancouver area, and doing any other tasks to support the work.
“It can be anything from securing places to serve in Canada to planning dinners and purchasing airfare,” Garcia said.
Garcia learned about Tabor when she became “instant best friends” with Hillsboro Mennonite Brethren Church youth pastor Sara Jo Waldron when both were students at Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, California. Waldron had previously attended Tabor.
When Waldron’s husband, Lee, became director of admissions at Tabor, he had an admissions counselor position to fill.
“I was looking for a job,” Garcia said. “I said, ‘I think God has something for me in Kansas,’ and I moved out here. I can’t tell you how much I love Kansas. I don’t think my friends from California understand it.”
Growing up in the culturally-diverse San Fernando Valley north of Los Angeles, coming to Tabor was unexpectedly eye-opening, Garcia said.
“When I was in California, it’s a very populated diverse area, but I was so busy with my own life, my world was very small,” she said. “When I came to Kansas, I was intrigued by MB Mission and Tabor and all the people from other places here. I really feel like I was exposed to the world in small town Hillsboro.”
Fluent in English and Spanish, Garcia said her Hispanic heritage has been a plus in her work at Tabor.
“It’s kind of fun being Hispanic here,” she said. “I get to know the Hispanic families and there’s an instant camaraderie. Every time there’s a Hispanic student who brings along their parents, I like to make a connection with them. It’s so helpful to speak to them in their own language. It provides a sense of comfort. I’ve been able to share my testimony as well.”
After her 10-month Trek experience in the Philippines, Garcia returned to Tabor on a temporary assignment. She’s open to her upcoming internship turning into something more.
“There’s a component that I continue to disciple and discover where I can serve within God’s call to go make disciples,” she said. “That’s something I’m still discovering. MB Missions is an organization I’ve gotten to know fairly well in my five years here, and I’d really enjoy working for them.”
If that happens, the organization will have a true believer in its outreach work.
“It provides the opportunity to either change the course of your life, or to open your heart and mind to global missions,” Garcia said. “It’s not just calling the young, single demographics; families can get involved, whole church groups have gone abroad.”
Proceeds from Pie Night will help, but to raise more funds for her internship, Garcia is planning another culinary event in June.
“I’m really going to celebrate my Mexican heritage,” she said. “I’m having a meal at Parkview Mennonite Church. I’m going to prepare an authentic Mexican meal and sing some mariachi songs.”
Garcia said she plans to stay connected to Tabor and Hillsboro.
“Part of my role will be mobilizing for Trek,” she said. “I’ve specifically said, ‘Tabor College students, I’m coming after you.’”