Since she was a small girl, Katlyn Timmerman of Midlothian has dreamed of serving as a missionary.

And she’s discovered a fast track that has helped her dreams to become reality through Engage, a program that partners with colleges and universities across the country. The program offers students opportunities to be mentored by experienced missionaries while picking up extra credit.

“It’s a two-year program for college students,” said Timmerman, describing it as a testing of the call of God on a life for mission work.

Timmerman is nearing completion of a degree in missions with a minor in Spanish from Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie. She has spent one year in Guadalajara, Mexico, and is planning to go back.

She praised the Engage program, noting that hundreds of students receive their college degrees, get approved for language school and then decide the experience is not for them. But Engage gives students front-end experience in the mission field.

“I am looking forward to going back to Guadalajara and continuing to invest in the lives and relationships we have developed,” she said.

She said she has had a desire for mission work since she was about 6 years old and was always hopeful she could do it right out of high school.

“My first year in Guadalajara has been a life-changing experience,” she said. “It has changed my world view and how I view life.”

Timmerman attended public schools in Midlothian until the eighth grade and finished her high school work at Waxahachie Preparatory School.

Students who enter the program must raise their own mission budget; her expenses will be more than $13,000 for the year 2009-2010.

“While I hope to see more lives impacted and more students equipped to minister, I will need to raise a new annual budget,” she said in a newsletter. “As a new missionary, I have learned budget is very important for planned and unplanned expenses.”

She will share a large house with 15 student interns with living expenses all shared.

“At one point this (past) year, we learned to keep a joyful attitude and let Christ shine while we were living without some common niceties, a warm shower being one of them,” she said. “Our budget for the month had not come in and hot water was one of the items that could be sacrificed while we were waiting. I’ve now learned to take three-minute showers.”

In Guadalajara, she participated in three different ministries – children’s, youth and university campus.

“Engage has taught me so much,” she said. “Each ministry has broadened my perspective of the world and the people in it, and I love every opportunity we have to ‘be love’ to the people there. The youth of (Mexico) have really impacted my heart. Many of the young people in Mexico feel trapped, and generational cycles are strong and never get broken. Young girls are used and abused, and the boys don’t know much about life without anger, violence and hard labor. The lives I’ve witnessed last semester have so much ahead of them, and there is so much against them.”

She is one of two daughters of Daniel and T-Kay Timmerman of Midlothian, and Katlyn has a sister, Megan, a freshman at SAGU.

Asked about her feelings of her daughter’s desire to serve as a missionary in a foreign country, her mother said it was amazing to her.

“Katlyn has been home about five weeks and, at least two times, I’ve seen her carry on a full conversation with people in another language. And she didn’t learn it from us,” T-Kay said. “This whole experience is so far beyond us – God has done it all for her – we just served as a springboard for her.”

Katlyn said Waxahachie Chick-Fil-A has offered to help her raise her budget by distributing meal vouchers. She will receive $1 for every voucher that is redeemed at Chick-fil-A from 5-8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 27.

Asked if serving as a missionary will be her life’s calling, Katlyn Timmerman is open to the idea.

“I’ll go wherever God will take me,” she said. “He’s working and moving in my life – I can see his fingerprints every step of the way.”

For further information about Timmerman’s mission trips, visit her Web site at www.KatlynTimmerman.webnode.com.

Contact Paul at paul.gauntt@wninews.com or 469-517-1450.