Editors Note: When I saw that Emily Padilla, a young adult of Rochester, Indiana, was going to live with Sandy Groves as a United Methodist Global Ministries individual volunteer in Kitwe, Zambia, Together asked her to write to Hoosier United Methodists about her experience as a volunteer and to acquaint Hoosiers with the mission work of the church on a personal basis. Follow Emily Padilla on Facebook. Search for Emily Padilla Zambia. DRG
My name is Emily Padilla. I am from Indiana and the daughter of a UMC pastor (the Rev. Buck Padilla of Rochester in the Northwest District). Missions has long been a part of my life, you could even say it’s in the blood. My parents were missionaries in Zaire in the 1980s. I was born there, and though we came back to the USA when I was still a baby, I have long felt a connection to Zaire and Africa.
Growing up, I started going on mission trips as soon as I was old enough to go. I have gone on a mission trip almost every year since I was 15 years old. God gave me a love for other cultures and serving. After college, I had the opportunity to return to Zaire, now called the Democratic Republic of Congo. I wanted to serve and see the country of my birth. I wanted my own memories of the country.
I spent a year teaching at The English-Speaking School of Lubumbashi (TESOL) as an Individual Volunteer through United Methodist Volunteers In Mission (UMVIM). It was a challenging but very rewarding year of my life. I cannot easily express how much I learned and grew during that time. It was also during this time that I first went to Zambia. I was there for a holiday, met Sandy and Delbert Groves, UMC missionaries working in Kitwe, and became friends with them.
I then came back to the United States to gain some more work experience and be closer to family again. A few years later, I felt God calling me to get back to be involved in missions full-time. For more than a year, I explored many opportunities, spent much time in prayer and eventually felt God calling me to work in Zambia with the Groves at New Life Center Zambia (www.newlifezambia.com). I missed Africa and was excited to go back. I have been in Kitwe for about five months now. I am settling in and figuring out my new responsibilities.
Currently, my primary role is with a tutoring program that was started a few years ago for the orphaned and vulnerable in our area. We were sponsoring local children in their secondary education, paying for their school fees so they could attend, but were finding that they weren’t learning enough at school to pass their grade 9 and grade 12 exams and were not graduating. Thus, the tutoring program began to help the students learn and pass their exams.
We started with English, which is foundational since the exams are in English. Then we added math and were able to do a little bit of science but not enough. That’s where I now come in. My background is in science, specifically biology so I am teaching lessons mostly in biology.
This responsibility takes only a couple hours each day Monday through Thursday. I have been finding other ways to help out, too. I have been helping out with various projects as needed, including administrative work and taking on updating the website and our new Facebook page to keep people engaged with what we’re doing here.
New Life Center is doing a lot of great work that God is moving and working through and I hope we can communicate that better with the outside world. I am excited about what God is doing and am honored to be a small part of it. – Emily Padilla
“I felt God calling me to get back to be involved in missions full-time.”
Photo courtesy of Emily Padilla
Mission volunteer Emily Padilla (center) is pictured with New Life Center Zambia Director Charles Mulemena and his wife, Barbara, in Kitwe, Zambia, Africa.