Are you a “missions-minded” vet student in your 3rd or 4th year of vet school? Do you have 4 weeks available to serve on the field? Do you want to receive hands-on training/one-on-one mentoring from a CVM Long-Term Field Worker? If so, then CVM’s Mission Apprenticeship program may be for you!
Applications to the Apprenticeship must be received by October 1, 2016 in order to be considered for the 2017-2018 school year.
And considering we’re just a week away from the deadline, we thought it would be fun to hear from past apprentices on how this experience helped them to see what life was like as a veterinary missionary and and how it helped them to hear God’s call on their life in a more clear way!
Dr. Dianne Johnson was kind enough to share her thoughts on her experience! She traveled to Cameroon in 2012. This is what she had to say!
Malia: Where are you now?
Dianne: I am self-employed, having started my own large animal veterinary practice in central Vermont within a year of vet school graduation. I had an internship-like position nearby with another veterinarian in this area immediately after graduation. His mentorship then and continued collaboration gave me the confidence to go solo, providing comprehensive farm animal care in a larger portion of central Vermont. Vermont is known as the least religious state in the nation and the lack of Christianity is noticeable daily. Working and living here is very much a place of missions even though it is close to home. I continue to attend church weekly, including an adult Bible study, and in the past year, I have become a youth group leader.
Malia: What did you learn about God, yourself, your worldview through this apprentice experience?
Dianne: I went to Cameroon as an apprentice in January 2012. Probably the most important lesson that has an almost daily impact on my life and on my business policies was taking care of animals for people with minimal economic assets. I learned in Cameroon that you need to have on-hand and be able to sell the medicine needed to treat an animal in a quantity that meets the client’s needs. Having the tools and meds on-hand to treat critical illness is just as important to timely care in rural Vermont as it is in rural Cameroon. To this end, one of the first things I bought as a resale item in private practice was digital thermometers. When I ask a client to take an animal’s temperature daily, I can also ask them if they have a thermometer. If they don’t have one, I can sell one for $5 which is less than the cost of any thermometer locally. This simple tool enables better animal care even by the clients that may have minimal education or finances because I can get this health information over the phone, assessing just how critical an animal’s condition is. Economic assets don’t limit or control a person’s ability to care for their animals, just as economic class doesn’t determine Biblical understanding or faith.
Malia: And how is God still using your experience?
Dianne: This past spring, my church youth group did 30-Hour Famine and the focal country this year was Ethiopia. I had an opportunity to share my pictures from Cameroon with them and also cooked fufu and groundnut sauce for our break-the-fast feast following the 30-Hour fast. My slideshow added to the reality of their experience at church that weekend. I described with photos water source problems, including a broken pump, a contaminated puddle, and a creek surrounded by grazing land.
In church in Cameroon one Sunday, the sermon included a donkey analogy: A man carrying a heavy load may be delighted if he comes across a donkey. He will be happy if he knows that he can transfer his load to the donkey. And he will be free from burden himself. But if the man has never seen a donkey, then he will probably be afraid of the animal. So, not only will he not transfer his load to the donkey, but he will also be filled with fear. The donkey analogy was applied to Jesus’ words from Matthew 11, verse 28, which says: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Sharing my experience locally with youth, other church members, family, and clients opens doors for the Gospel to be heard. We all get into our “bubbles” of our lives, our relationships, our work, our problems and we minimize the lives of others. We judge others for how they differ from us, even among Christian groups, creating group-specific cultural norms. Seeing the hatred sometimes present between two tribes in Cameroon is a clear representation of how harmful our cultural judgments can be. In Bible study conversations I alert when I hear hints of cultural superiority. Being alert to cultural judgments is like understanding when a person has only ever used a truck to carry a heavy load and has never considered the services of a donkey. Across groups we need to remember that the points isn’t the cultural vehicle, but the knowing that Christ will carry the load.
Malia: How did the apprenticeship experience help you to discern your next steps for long-term missions (even if that was discernment that long-term missions wasn’t for you) or for your next steps in life?
Dianne: I often go back and read my apprenticeship application. I ask myself if I agree, and if my life is still aligned with what I wrote. Despite being 3 years into a sole proprietorship veterinary practice, I want to continually seek God’s will and be flexible enough to follow.
Malia: How do you continue to stay engaged in hearing what God is calling you to?
Dianne: Teaching youth and trying to be an example for them may be primary right now. But there are also constant questions or concerns about finances and life goals. I don’t want to live so comfortably that I don’t want to move, but I also don’t want to be so uncomfortable that I don’t want to stay! I don’t want to be so busy that I don’t have time for rest and volunteer work, but I would like to achieve a higher income. Living in rural Vermont has social consequences too. I prefer a few quality friends than many acquaintances, but single Christian men are few and far between. Between living life and active participation in church, and ongoing journaling, it would be impossible to not hear what God is calling me to. The problem sometimes is figuring out the timeline.
Mission Apprenticeship Program
If you are interested in participating in the Apprenticeship Program, click here to download the Apprenticeship forms or to read more about the program. Applications are due October 1st!