By Anne Scherrman
Special to The Witness
CEDAR RAPIDS — “Please God, what is my vocation?” Throughout my time at Xavier Catholic High School in Cedar Rapids, and especially when I began my college studies at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, this question had weighed heavily on my mind. I have always felt a strong desire to do more but I never knew what this “more” was. I had prayed for God to really hit me over the head with an obvious answer – so obvious that I could not possibly miss it. But, of course God does not work this way. And yet, while I knew this, I simply could not give up this frame of mind. I became frustrated and let my emotions overwhelm me, so much so that I paralyzed myself into a constant fear of uncertainty. I did not dare make a move for fear that it would not be what God had intended. But, finally, I made the bold decision.
After spending many prayerful hours in front of the Blessed Sacrament and having several discussions with my parents, it suddenly came to me – maybe, I needed to do something completely different. I had always wanted to go on a true missionary trip but had always put it off because I felt my heart was not pure enough to serve in that way. However, dare I say, I suddenly experienced a very comforting feeling. Because of this, I made a major leap of faith – I suspended my studies at Benedictine College. To my delight, the college administration fully supported me and promised they would hold my scholarships until I returned!
When I was at home for spring break, I was discussing my new direction with my parents, Jeff and Mary Scherrman. Many of the missionary options around the world these days promised to be dangerous to Americans, let alone Christians, and my parents asked me to consider staying in the western hemisphere. The first organization that my father mentioned was the Farm of the Child, located in the Central American country of Honduras. Sadly, I blew it off because I really wanted to find something myself and was too prideful to look much further into it. Little did I know that, after returning to college after spring break, when I asked several experienced FOCUS missionaries and friends if they might recommend any missionary organizations, I was to hear the name “Farm of the Child” several times within a few hours and dozens of other times within the first two weeks back at school. The strange thing was that none of these people actually seemed to know much about the Farm of the Child except the fact that it was a Catholic mission in Honduras. I realized that I had been too closed-minded and maybe this was the missionary organization God was calling me to look into. I called the mission contact person in Florida and she instructed me to fill out the Missionary Application on their website and, if meeting their qualifications, there would be additional phone interviews.
During the subsequent phone interviews, I discovered I would be the youngest, and least experienced, missionary to ever become a team member at the Farm of the Child – all previous missionaries had college degrees and offered some experience in service to the children at the mission. Because of this, my parents suggested that I explore, and apply, to other mission organizations as well – but I did not. I finally knew in my heart that this is where God was calling me and I was going to take this chance!
I will forever remember the day I received the call in early May from Patricia Pietravalle, the Executive Director of the Farm of the Child based out of Florida, informing me that I was accepted to become a missionary at their orphanage. Patricia shared with me that, while their Board of Directors had originally decided not to accept me due to my lack of experience, they had immediately changed their minds after reading the personal references they received on my behalf – in particular, one coming from Father Dustin Vu, Pastor of Saint John XXIII in Cedar Rapids, also the School Chaplain at Xavier High School and personal friend of my family.
The Farm of the Child is surrounded by poverty and extreme hunger. The mission is located on the Caribbean coast of Honduras, close to the city of Trujillo. The mission rescues children whose parents are unable/unwilling to support them, and children who are abandoned or abused. This organization’s goal is to raise these children in a family environment and to educate them to be healthy, happy, and devoted citizens of their country. The Farm of the Child is able to accomplish this goal by staffing an orphanage, school, and medical clinic and having outreach programs to the families in the surrounding villages. I am excited to learn that I will most likely teach a Kindergarten class!
As I prepare myself for life as a missionary I am learning that missions, and missionaries, are in a constant need for funding. We are asked to attract a good number of Mission Partners and to raise the significant portion of our financial needs outside of our immediate family. We are asked to raise a minimum of $10,000 to cover our expenses for travel, medical insurance, 6-8 weeks of language school and cultural immersion in Guatemala, preparation costs and necessary supplies for our mission commitment. The balance of all donations to the Farm of the Child goes directly towards the annual budget for running the orphanage.
Beginning in August, 2016, Honduras will be my home for approximately 15-24 months. My personal goal is to raise funds before the first week of August as I will be leaving shortly thereafter. I encourage you to visit the Farm of the Child website, www.farmofthechild.org, and consider how you might help. If you are unable to support my mission financially, I humbly ask for your prayers for the Mission and my fellow missionaries.
Donations via Personal Check:
Please send all checks to the mailing address below. Checks should be made payable to the Farm of the Child and can be earmarked for my missionary account by writing “Anne Scherrman” on the memo line.
Farm of the Child
c/o 1616 Nottingham Knoll Drive
Jacksonville, FL 32225
Donations via Web:
- For secure donation, go to: www.farm-ofthechild.org
- Follow the Call for Missionaries Tab → Our Missionaries. Click on my photo to go to my personal “Anne Scherrman” missionary profile.
- You will see a link to support my mission. Choose Click & Pledge button. This link will take you to a secure donation page. You can make a one-time donation, or set up a recurring payment for the frequency and duration of your choice.
- You will receive an email confirming your donation so that we might send you a tax receipt and I will receive an email confirming your donation, as well.
Visit my gofundme account at: gofund.me/27j7wxuc
Farm of the Child is a 501©3 organization and your donation is tax deductible.
Anne Scherrman is a native of Cedar Rapids whose home parish is St. Wenceslaus. She is leaving her studies at Benedictine College to be a missionary for 15-24 months. (Contributed photo)