To Morocco via the Peace Corps
November 30, 2004
Mitzi Shultes flew from Oklahoma City to Philadelphia on September 11, 2004.
She met up with 53 other volunteers, and together they became orientated to their team before boarding a bus for New York City. From there, they left on a flight bound for Casablanca. Now, in the city of Khemisset, about an hour and a half from Rabat, Mitzi is working as a Peace Corps volunteer. She never thought life would steer her in this direction.
It was on a trip to Dallas two years ago that Mitzi had a chance to re-evaluate her life. She went to see Tears of the Sun, a film that is primarily a portrayal of war. Mitzi saw something else. One of the secondary characters was a woman, a doctor, who had given up her practice in the States to work in Africa among an impoverished community. "My sister's a doctor," Mitzi says, "and I know how much schooling she has done. To think of her giving that up to go down and help people in another country is amazing. I ended up going back and seeing the movie again. I wanted to see the familiar quote that ends the film, 'All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for a good man to sit back and do nothing.' That registered with me and began my search for where God might lead."
The incident at the movie theatre pointed her to scripture. "My life is meaningless," says Mitzi, recalling her reading of Ecclesiastes. "I began to realize that God has set up my life, or allowed certain things to happen and not happen, so that I wouldn't have any excuses to answer a call to go. I had never before thought that having no husband and no kids and no career that I cared about were advantages, but I knew I never wanted the picket fence suburban life. I had no reasons to avoid something like the Peace Corps."
After Mitzi graduated from OBU in 1998, she worked several jobs that related to her journalism major. None of them seemed to fit. "I realized that I was working to pay rent and pay for a car and pay for all these things that represent the American Dream, things I never really set out to have," she says. Then Mitzi moved to Colorado, where she began working with a church's youth program. "It is really OBU that indirectly prepared me for a life of ministry," Mitzi says. "Even though I never thought I would be a missionary, because of the Christian environment at OBU, I was prepared to adapt. Maybe that made it easier to have no excuses in deciding to go to Morocco. OBU exposed me to missions as an option, and I feel that the Peace Corps is essentially mission work for me."
Morocco is a country that is nearly 100 percent Muslim. Even though its location is in Northern Africa, it is considered to be part of the Middle East mindset because of its religious, Mideast Arab ties. "It's a little daunting to think about," Mitzi says. Divided into four teams, the Peace Corps volunteers will teach English in youth centers, work in small business development, help with heath issues, and also assist in environmental concerns. Mitzi is working in a youth center. "My motivation is to go help people," she says, "and my actions can speak louder than my words. Mother Teresa's book, A Simple Path, points this out. It says, 'Love means nothing if it's not shared.' She shared Jesus through what she did, instead of what she said. I want to be like that. The verse in James about works accompanying faith also helped me affirm my decision as well."
Today, Mitzi says she has a fuller appreciation for ministry. "You can't pigeon hole it, that it has to be done this way or that," she says. Although she is not excited about wearing long skirts, a wedding band, and making sure her arms are covered, it is this way - to Morocco by way of the Peace Corps - that she is expressing her Christian mission.
To contact Mitzi, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.geocities.com/mitzishultes/ morocco.html.