Submitted by: Pam Fahndrich
“Filling out voluntary service applications is a daunting task. How does one discern which opportunity is the “right” choice?” These where were my thoughts back in the summer of 1991. I’d just graduated from college, which I had attended in my hometown of Harrisonburg, Virginia, and I had decided that a year or two of voluntary service somewhere between there and Colorado would be a great way to spread my wings a bit and get some work experience to add to my resume’. However, once I sat down at the table with the applications spread before me I did not know where to begin so I did what I always did, I decided to pray first.
The way I remember it, as soon as I said “Amen,” the telephone rang. Being the only one home at the time, I answered the call. On the other end of the line was Brian Stauffer, who was the principal of Western Mennonite School in Salem, Oregon. I remember the thought flashing through my mind, “Where’s Oregon?” (As in, how far away from Virginia?). Mr. Stauffer proceeded to ask me what my plans were for the coming year. I said, “Funny you should ask, I just sat down to fill out some voluntary service applications.” In response, he said, “That’s interesting. The reason I am calling is to see if you might be interested in applying for a voluntary service position at Western Mennonite School as the Assistant Girls Dean in the dorm.” Having been a camp counselor for many summers and currently serving as the assistant director at a summer youth camp, I felt that I might be well suited for the position. I also thought the timing of the phone call was interesting given the prayer I’d just prayed, and the fact that I was literally just sitting down to fill out voluntary service applications. Following a brief conversation, I told Mr. Stauffer to please mail me an application.
After hanging up the phone, I ran over to the living room and pulled an encyclopedia off the bookshelf. Quickly turning to a map of the United States, I located Oregon. My heart sank a little as I saw that it was as far West as I could go without falling into the ocean! My next thought was that my mom would probably not think it was a good idea. I waited impatiently for her to get home from town. As soon as she walked in, I told her about the phone call and the invitation to apply for the position in the dorm. As I remember it, she was standing with her back to me putting some groceries away. She turned around and looked at me and the first thing she said was, “If that’s where God wants you to go, you should go.” After that, I felt free to pursue the possibility. When the application arrived, I filled it out. (I do not remember filling out any of the other applications that I had originally laid out on the table.) I interviewed over the phone and was later offered the position. All along the way I felt God directing the process and the timing.
On August 26, 1991, I packed my bags and left for Oregon for what I thought was going to be a one-year voluntary service assignment. Little did I know that I would still be in Oregon 25 years later, married to an amazing man, Tim Fahndrich (WMS Class of ’85) and the mother of two wonderful children, Elyssa (WMS Class of 2015) and Johnny, (WMS Class of 2018). God is continuing to use the ministry at Western Mennonite School to not only impact our lives, but the lives of students and families for generations to come. “Nothing is impossible if God is in it, behind it, and goes before it.”