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Student turns from medicine to ministry

Pamela Elting believes God wants her to be a missionary.

When her church pastor preaches about missionary work, Elting said, that overwhelming desire is confirmed. Putting the finishing touches on the calling is Elting's mother, Susan Kleckner, who also believes God is calling her daughter to this ministry.

Elting, 18, of Spring Hill, had a taste of that calling two years ago when she spent two weeks in Costa Rica. On Monday, she will travel to Peru to help build six rooms and a water deposit. Her team also will distribute clothes, hygiene utensils and food, and will conduct workshops.

She will spend 10 days in Alto Trujillo with 18 students and two adult chaperones.

The trip is sponsored by Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, Tenn., a Christian college where Elting is a freshman. She will be a part of the CAUSE team _ College and University Students Serving and Enabling.

One of the poorest areas of the region, Alto Trujillo, has no electricity or running water. However, Elting said she is not anxious about the living conditions.

"I know I'll be okay," she said. "I'm putting myself in God's hands."

The 1997 Springstead High School graduate first became interested in missionary work when she attended a convention and saw a flier announcing a trip to Costa Rica.

Elting was chosen at age 16, along with two others from Central Florida, for the two-week summer trip. One of the requirements was that participants pay their own expenses, which were about $600. The church she was attending then, Calvary Community Church, helped out with a goodwill offering that raised the entire amount.

"It was an experience for me to let her go," said Kleckner.

"At times like that the Lord knows what he's doing."

While in Costa Rica, Elting spent much time on what would seem to many people a tedious task _ painting the bars on an office building on seminary property.

Somewhat more interesting was the time-consuming assignment of transcribing children's Christian videos that later would be translated into Spanish.

The pre-med student has been invited to become an intern at Trevecca immediately upon her return to Tennessee. Although she hasn't learned details, she probably will work with young children, playing, teaching, reading Bible stories.

When Elting was 8 or 9, she expressed interest in becoming a doctor.

"She wanted to work in inner cities where people didn't have money to pay for their care," said Kleckner. "That led to an interest in missionary work."

Elting is no longer sure about medicine.

"I don't like chemistry," she said. "I think the doctor thing is out, but I would like to work in the medical field and I'm still stuck on missionary work."

For her current mission, in addition to providing three written recommendations from religious sources, Elting had to raise $1,200 for airfare, working supplies, room and board. She was also required to write letters requesting donations from family members, friends and church members.

Kleckner said writing the letters was difficult for Elting because "she's not super outgoing, but she put everything she could into it because she wanted to do this."

"When I thought about it," Elting said, "I felt I shouldn't be asking for money and became more focused on asking for prayers."

In the end Elting did get money as a result of her letters, church offerings, college fund-raising events and a yard sale that Kleckner held.

Renee Corzine, whose husband Don is pastor of Spring Hill First Church of the Nazarene, where Elting attends, said Elting will do a fine job. She's "wonderful in every aspect with lots of love and a giving spirit," Corzine said.

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