Emily Busch plans to spend the next year of her life as a full-time missionary in the Life Teen program in northern Georgia.
She’s confident about committing a year of her life to missionary work.
“I’m not even a little bit nervous,” said the 21-year-old from Wesley Chapel. “There’s so much peace.”
Part of that is because she’s familiar with the program, after spending a summer there working as a videographer and another summer as an office intern.
She knows what’s she’s getting into, and she can’t wait.
Life Teen owns two camps, Hidden Lake and Covecrest, in the mountains of North Georgia, in a town called Dahlonega.
“It’s a retreat center during the year, and it’s a summer camp during the summer,” Busch said, noting about 2,500 kids come there every summer, so it’s busy.
It’s a place which attracts youth groups from parishes, giving them a chance to gain a deeper understanding of their Catholic faith.
Busch, herself, was involved in her youth group at Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church, in Land O’ Lakes, which led to her going on a mission trip to Nicaragua.
That experience was a turning point in her spiritual life.
She feels called to do mission work, and she believes the trip to Nicaragua was the catalyst.
“When I was there, I saw the poverty, and I saw the desire for the Lord in the hearts of people that had nothing.
“And, when I was back home, I was like, ‘I have everything I want. I have everything I need. These people have less than half of what I have and they’re happier than I am, so what am I doing wrong?” she said.
It was a question she pondered for quite some time.
Ultimately, she felt that the Lord was putting mission work on her heart.
She didn’t answer that call immediately. She wanted to get her degree from Saint Leo University, where she majored in religion.
But, she graduated a year early and decided to devote that year to serving at Life Teen.
“I’m not saying that I’m a saint by any means, but I desire that. I desire that holiness, and I desire to do the work that the Lord has done, but in 2017.”
Beyond working with youths, Busch will also be working on her own spiritual walk.
Serving at the camp requires Busch to raise her own support. She must raise a minimum of $6,000 to cover food, housing and other costs. She hopes to raise $10,000, to provide a $100 a month stipend and to provide money to begin paying back her student loans.
As of last week, she had raised $5,500.
She planned to hit the road, en route to Georgia, on Sept. 5.
She expects the year to have its highs and its lows, but is looking forward to what lies ahead.
She recalls the first time she went to the camp, in 2015.
“I had never been to the camp before, and I had committed for three months. And, I was driving there (thinking), ‘I’ve never been to this place. It could be terrible. It could be horrible. And, I got there … It was beautiful and it was amazing, and it was holy. There’s something about living in the mountains that just takes your breath away.”
Busch said there have been times when people have excluded her because of her Christian values. Some took an attitude of: “I’m not going to invite you (Busch) to this thing because you’re a Christian girl.”
That doesn’t bother her.
“I have to be confident in who I am and what the Lord has called me to, and I can’t worry about what other people’s opinions are,” she said. “But, I can show them Jesus in my actions, and I can show them the peace that I have about my life.”
She’s not sure what lies beyond this next step in her journey.
“I’m thinking about either teaching at a Catholic school, or working at a nonprofit in some way, like Metropolitan Ministries or something like that,” she said.
But, only time will tell.
For now, though, she’s content with her next step in life.
“Spreading the Word (of God) is what I most desire,” Busch said.
Want to help? Go to: Donate.Lifeteen.com/EmmBusch.
Published September 6, 2017