Meet Marty Cespedes, a twenty-four-year-old international student from Costa Rica. She is majoring in Biblical Studies at Lancaster Bible College and hopes to work in the mission field upon graduation.
Cespedes is new to LBC, but she has already earned a degree in industrial engineering and obtained a job in that field back home. During her schooling, she did not enjoy her classes but knew she needed to finish what she started. Industrial engineering could ensure a good job that would transfer to good money in the future, which was her main reason behind studying it.
Well into a steady and secure job, she remembered contemplating to herself, “I want to do something for God’s kingdom, not just for me and to make money.”
Three years ago, Cespedes prayed to God asking where He wanted her to be in the future. She believes God heard her fervent prayers by sending signs through dreams. In those dreams, she saw herself teaching others about God. Naturally, she questioned if the dreams were self-constructed, but determined it was from God.
Before starting this new venture, she knew she needed to learn and be taught how to effectively teach others about God.
“I visited LBC last July, making it only the second time visiting the United States,” Cespedes recalled.
Cespedes’ aunt lives near the Lancaster area, making the familiarity of family a draw to attend school at LBC.
This past January, filled with conflicting emotions, she applied to attend LBC for the following fall. Although feelings of fear and worry whirled around her mind, she knew she needed to do this.
At the brink of spring, Cespedes received an email notifying not only her acceptance, but an offer for full tuition. The financial aspect was one of the biggest answers to prayer, making it yet another sign to follow through with this decision.
Upon arrival, Cespedes decided to be a part of the women’s soccer team here at LBC. In Costa Rica, she had played soccer throughout high school and wanted to rekindle the passion she once had for the game. However, she graduated high school seven years ago, changing the dynamic of how she relates to the game and the team.
Although she believed it was a rough start to the season, her outlook has since changed. As the season progressed, relationships started to form, memories were made, and Cespedes is happy she decided to be a part of the special experience of belonging to a team.
Despite being in a new culture, Cespedes finds much to enjoy in the United States. “I love it!” she said.
She strongly admires American culture, with food being at the top of the list. Along with the unique dishes, she also likes the way the majority of Americans drive because nearly all Costa Rican drivers are similar to New York City drivers.
“They all have crazy road rage,” Cespedes added.
She also compared the people in the U.S. to those in Costa Rica. She stated, “Costa Ricans look down upon other people and criticize them. I realize that some people here are just living their own lives and don’t care about what other people are doing, which I like.”
Although a smooth transition, there is one difficulty that Cespedes has needed to consistently work through. The language barrier has made it challenging to communicate with those around her, but she gets better every day at mastering the English language.
Before coming to the United States, she started learning English in high school and did everything she could to learn the language.
“I would listen to music and watch TV to help me learn English,” she recalled. She even worked in an English call center to further educate herself. She humorously added, “There were times that I had no idea what people were trying to ask me. I remember saying to myself, ‘What did I just say yes to?’ I had no idea.”
Cespedes continues to study English and grammar every day. “I learn a few new words every day to help me. I love the language,” she said.
As she looks toward the future, Cespedes has doubts about what she will encounter, but she is excited to know how things will play out.
“I wish I could just know now,” she said.
On Cespedes’ arm, she has a tattoo of John 3:16. “It’s amazing the way God gave His son to save us,” she said, explaining the meaning behind it.
“From this perspective,” she said, “I ask how I can give it all for others, help others and give everything to them. Maybe you can make a huge change in someone’s life by even just saying something to them, potentially changing their perspective on life.”
Contact Focus at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo Credit: Marty Cespedes