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Summer of Impact 2022: Zoe, West Africa Computer Engineering Intern

By Malise Terrell
Africa, Global, Engineering, Internship (2-3 mo.), W&C Africa

Zoe was born and raised in Chillicothe, Illinois. She is studying computer engineering at Cedarville University in Cedarville, Ohio. She will graduate in the spring of 2024. Zoe enjoys hiking, hammocking, coffee shops, singing, baking, reading and learning about people’s lives. 

Q: How did you hear about TWR?

TWR had a table at Cedarville University’s career fair. However, when I went I did about four or five laps around that career fair and never even heard mention of the TWR table. I was literally on my way out of the fair when a friend of mine (also an engineering major) walked into the fair and asked if I had seen the TWR table. I told her that I had never even heard of TWR. She said“Oh they have engineering internships overseas.” That sparked my interest, so I went with her to find the table. We found the table and listened to the two women there talk about TWR’s ministry, and I was sold. 

Q: What caused you to get involved in the internship program with TWR?

I went on my first mission trip when I was 13 years old. It was a nine-day trip with my church to San Juan de la Maguana, Dominican Republic. I think from the day I set foot on Dominican soil I have always known that God wanted missions to play a role in my life  somehow. I struggled for a long time wondering how God could combine my loves for engineering and missions.

In college I joined a group called the Society for Engineers Aiding Missions (SEAM), a group that prays for and speaks with engineering missionaries around the world
. Also, they help build solar flashlights to send to missionaries in Liberia and Ghana. That’s where I started learning about engineering missions, and every time we heard missionaries speak, I felt that all-too-familiar tug on my heart from God telling me that he wanted me to look into missions. Then, at the career fair I stumbled upon the TWR internship to West Africa, and it was just such a sign from God for me. I couldn’t not do it. I needed to go and experience engineering missions.

Q: What do you feel your calling is, and how does this summer fit into that?

Before coming to Africa, I was already wondering if God wanted me to use my engineering skills in missions, but I was still super uncertain as to what my calling was. Then the TWR internship basically fell into my life without my even searching for it. I had been wondering for a while if engineering missions was even feasible for me, so I figured that God was trying to tell me something in presenting this internship opportunity to me. I decided to do the internship because I was hoping it would give me clarity on whether God wanted me to go into missions. And has it ever! At this point I do think that God is calling me to go into missions as an engineer. 

Q: What projects are you involved in?

My main, big project at work has been setting up and installing the remote control and monitoring system here at the West Africa Transmitting Station (WATS). I have also just been helping wherever I can at the station, whether that’s helping (fellow intern) Austin with his ground conductivity sensor, helping the technicians, or driving the backhoe to do cleanup projects at the cottage. 

Outside of work at the station, I have also been involved in leading a Bible study for local missionary kids, helping with a Kids Club to neighborhood children, and helping with a ministry to the local Fulani boys. 

Q: What is the biggest challenge you’ve encountered so far in your internship, and how have you overcome it?

Honestly, I struggled a lot with confidence for a lot of the first month I was here. I experienced some pretty intense culture shock and found it super difficult to put myself out there and talk to the locals. 

More than that, though, I found it hard to have confidence at work. I love engineering, and I so desperately wanted to do well in my first real engineering job. However, I was so new to the whole idea of working a more career-like job, so I often doubted my skills and decisions. For several weeks I struggled so much with self-doubt. What ended up helping was leaning on other people and on God. I told my supervisor, Garth Kennedy, about it. He encouraged me and told me that I had the skills but that the only way to have confidence in myself and the work I was doing was to find my confidence in God rather than my abilities. 

I began reminding myself whenever I had doubts that God had surely called me to work with TWR for a reason and that he had equipped me and would continue to equip me to do the job he sent me to do. I have since had such an overwhelming feeling of peace and security as I navigate working in a cross-cultural technical environment. It has even become a joy to me to try to work through the challenge of communicating with my West African co-workers. 

Q: What were you most looking forward to during your internship?

Using my engineering skills to glorify God and learning more about a new culture! 

Q: What was your biggest goal for this summer?

I guess my biggest goal has been to just be a help in whatever way I can. I was eager (and still am eager) to take on any project Garth gave me and to help in any ministry opportunity that was presented to me. 

Q: What is one thing you have learned this summer?

This has really just been a huge summer of perspective for me. Sure, I had been to other countries before, but none with a culture so drastically different from my own. I had heard stories about Africa and about unreached people groups and about life as a missionary, but they were all kind of abstract ideas to me. 

There’s something so incredibly different about actually going to a place. It makes you realize how real the rest of the world is. The people of West Africa are real flesh and blood people with hopes and dreams and beliefs. I’ve spent time with members of unreached people groups and grown to love them. And experiencing this [here] just makes the rest of the world seem more real, too. The world is full of real flesh-and blood-people who need to hear the gospel but haven’t yet. I have gotten to know missionaries working in the field here. And guess what? They’re just regular old people following God’s leading in their lives to go into the mission field. God can call anyone and use anyone. Really, this internship has opened my eyes to life  in the world. 

Q: What’s your favorite thing about being here so far?

Seeing God’s work here! There is so much darkness in (this area of West Africa)  and in regard to the poverty and hardship experienced by the people here. However, I have met the missionaries God has sent here and the ministries they lead, and it has just been a joy to witness God bringing his Word and his light to people in dark situations. God’s Word is being furthered here, and it is so cool to see!

Q: What are your post-college plans?

My current, loose plan for my future is to finish up college and then work in a computer engineering job in the States for a few years to gain more experience in my career field. After that I hope to go into full-time missions! However, I hold these plans loosely and am open to wherever God leads!

Q: Fun fact: What’s your favorite food? 

Specifically, fish tacos. In general, any kind of seafood. Crab, catfish, sushi—you name it! If it’s from the sea, it’s for me! 

Q: Tell us a little-known or fun fact about yourself!

I have a couple of weird food combos I enjoy. I love watermelon in my tacos. And sometimes I put ketchup on salmon.

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