Josh Knowlton: What It’s Like Without Taco Bell
Name: Josh Knowlton
Class Standing: Sophomore
Major: Business Administration, Pre-Dentistry
Interviewed By: Rachel Arner
Why did you decide to be a student missionary (SM)?
Ever since high school I liked being in a leadership position, not so that I could boss everyone around but because I loved to serve my class. Going into college I knew that I didn't want to stop my passion for serving. I heard about Student Missions and how it was so beneficial to the people who went abroad and for the people that they were with. So with an urge to get closer to God, wanting to experience some hands-on dental work and a passion for service, I decided to take a leap of faith and become a Student Missionary.
Where are you a SM and what do you do there?
I am currently serving in Pagudpud, Philippines. This is the northernmost part of the main island Luzon. I work as a Bible Worker and as a Dental Assistant. As a Bible Worker, I go on many visitations throughout the community where we sing songs, give a little Bible study and pray with people. I also help out in the Seventh-day Adventist church here next to the clinic. I teach the youth Sabbath School, help lead out Vespers twice a week and I have already had the privilege to preach for divine service. In the Dental Clinic I am able to assist the dentist with most operations. I assist with teeth extractions, fillings, crowns/jackets and even dentures. Not only am I able to serve the people of Pagudpud by working in this clinic but I am able to experience what my future profession will be like!
What is your favorite part of being an SM?
Being able to fully immerse myself into a different culture. The Filipino culture is unique in so many ways and I am just in love with the fact that I am able to experience it in such a manner that is beneficial to myself and to those around me. The food here is absolutely amazing as well! Since I do have Filipino blood in me, I have tried many of the dishes back in the States but nothing can compare to how it tastes here. And the children here are adorable and they always bring a smile to my face when I play with them. As soon as I take out my camera to take a picture, they all grab onto me and smash their faces as close as they can to mine, making sure that they'll be clearly seen in the photo. Whenever I stroll through the marketplace there will always be at least one or two kids who run up to me and yell my name.
Where is home for you?
Home for me is sunny Southern California. More specifically in San Bernardino.
What do you miss most about being home?
I definitely miss my family and I think about them all of the time when I'm here. I have two younger brothers and I love watching/hearing them play sports and their instruments. I try to Skype home as often as I can but it just isn't the same. I have a lot of friends back home that I miss dearly as well. One of the struggles for me when I first left was learning how to cope with the fact that my friend groups will continue to live their life without me. It was hard for me to let go of that fact but I soon came to realize that even though they are continuing their life back home, I'll still be continuing my life here and they will still be there when I get back. Everything back home is at our fingertips and really quite easy to access, while here, for certain groceries or products we have to travel two hours away to the nearest city to buy it. Another thing I miss about home is hot showers. Hot water is hard to come by here and I must say, I haven't had a hot shower in five and a half months. Oh, and I definitely miss Taco Bell and In-N-Out. The other SMs and I will get these random cravings for Taco Bell all the time but coming from SoCal I already know that In-N-Out will be my first meal back.
What are your future plans?
Becoming a dentist.
What is your favorite thing to do in the Philippines?
I really enjoy being taken around the countryside by the locals. We visit famous landmarks, different beautiful beaches, waterfalls, cities and hiking trails. One of my favorite things that we have done so far is camped on the beach. Instead of using a tent to sleep in, everyone that went brought their hammock. So that night we slept under the stars, in between coconut trees and listened to the waves crash on the beach.
When will you be back at Andrews?
My last day as an SM here is May 1 but I will be back at Andrews for the Fall 2017 semester!