Attending a university, whether its public or private, can be a daunting task, especially when people tell you it’s impossible! That’s what everyone kept telling Alondra Zavala, but she had her heart set on Southwestern Adventist University. People told her it was too expensive, she lived in another country (Mexico), she couldn’t expect the same opportunities as other people, it would be a waste of money to even try, and on and on.
Despite all that, Alondra would not take no for an answer – unless the no was from God. When she called Southwestern, she found out that the answer wasn’t no! Alondra was accepted into Southwestern Adventist University. Through scholarships, hard work, help, and a lot of prayer, Alondra is now a junior education/psychology major.
“Coming to Southwestern gave me a chance to be more involved,” says Alondra. “I felt very limited in high school since most of the activities were on Friday night or Saturday. But my first freshman year at Southwestern I was in all of the clubs: Missions club, Enactus, you name it.”
Not only does Alondra get involved with the clubs because she likes to help, but also because she knows that they can potentially help her out in her future.
“All of these clubs help me in a sense that we don’t just focus on material things but we focus on our spirituality as well,” says Alondra. “It really helps me get a perspective of how I should be living my life even after I graduate. I could be one of those people who start a small group on my own after I graduate. It really gives me a feeling of being involved and how I can help more people and spread the word of God to them.”
In summer 2015, Alondra was invited by one of her friends to participate in literature evangelism. She had to choose between either working in literature evangelism or going home. But she had been faced with tough decisions before. So, like before, she put it to prayer.
“I gave God two weeks to tell me if He wanted me to go work in literature evangelism,” says Alondra. “I didn’t want to do it for the money, even though I needed it. I wanted to do this because I felt God calling me to go. So I prayed about it. While I was reading the Bible I stumbled across Isaiah 61:1-3 where it says that God has anointed us to go help those who are mourning. God answered my prayer and I felt the call to go. I decided to give it a try, not because my friends were going, or because I needed the money but because I wanted to help people know about God.”
When Alondra got to the literature evangelism site, she didn’t know what to expect. Coming in, Alondra thought that her spiritual life with God was already great but she found that she could still get discouraged.
On one particular day she had started with prayer, as was her habit. She knocked on several doors and received no response. There hadn’t been a lot of responses lately. She began to question why she was in the literature evangelism program and whether she should go back home.
Alondra asked God for a sign to let her know that she had made the right choice of working as a literature evangelist. “I asked God to at least have someone open the door and shut it in my face because I wanted to see someone and do something,” she recalls. “As I went along feeling discouraged I knocked on a door and a man opened it. I said my opening line, then I handed him The Great Controversy. As I was telling him what the book was about, he cut me off, asked me who wrote the book, if I’d read it, what it was about, and why I was at his door. In my head I was praying, ‘God, please help me respond to him.”
“We started talking and he turned out to have a psychology degree so we started talking about psychology. He told me about his daughters and how he had raised them and I showed him the story time books for kids.”
“Before I stepped out of his house he called me back and asked if he could tell me a story. The story he told me went like this: There was once a Lutheran pastor who decided to go do mission work in a different country. As he was in that country, he questioned why he was there and felt like going back home. The Lutheran pastor decided to write a letter to his family that said: what am I doing here and why am I here? A few weeks later he got a letter back with a response and it simply said: forget about yourself and just do the work. When I heard those words I felt that the Holy Spirit, through this random stranger, gave me a sign that I was focused on the wrong thing and should keep on with my work.”
This experience was exactly why Alondra wanted to attend Southwestern so badly that she risked going against the opinions of so many people in her life.
“One of the main reasons I wanted to come to Southwestern was that I knew I wouldn’t thrive in public school,” says Alondra. “I wanted to be where I would have opportunities to strengthen the foundation I had with God in my life. I truly felt that Southwestern was going to give me a better chance to get closer to God. With all of the Bible study groups we have on campus, the opportunities to lead, and the professors who pray before classes start, I found what I was looking for.”
Alondra Zavala, Psychology/Education, 2018
By Saul Flores, senior communication major