The roads to seminary follow many different paths. Listen in as a few of our Menlo Park students reflect on their decision to attend seminary and what they've experienced so far.

Annabel Leyva, current MDIV student

Annabel Leyva

MDiv 2015

I sensed God's call to be prepared for his service in 2011. I had no clue how I would do this, but I was sure of His call. After seeking God in prayer, I started looking for seminaries and even took a trip to Puerto Rico where I thought I would start my journey. God did not open the doors for me in Puerto Rico. I went to God in prayer once again, and He lead me to Fuller.

From the start, I saw God opening door after door. I was welcomed by Fuller staff in Northern California who prayed with me and demonstrated God's love and patience. All of my concerns were addressed. God provided the financial means and the benefit of staying in my community. Opened doors does not mean easy journey. I became a student once again after thirteen years of achieving my bachelors degree. Many things had changed in thirteen years. I have a husband, two young children, ministry, I am older and tired, and I am academically rusty! I was sure that I was called to support my denominational bible college become accredited, so that meant that I needed to work toward a PhD. I was ready to go, but things started to unravel for me on my first day of class. On my way to class, I was reminded that an old friend was still part of me: anxiety! I could not stop crying! Anxiety has come for visits every once in a while during these past two years (Mostly at the start of new quarters). This has caused me to struggle with discerning God's direction with regard to my degree.

God had a more direct intervention with me this last school year, 2012-2013. First, I was connected to the Hispanic Center where I have been able to receive support, prayer, information, and courses that relate to Hispanic Ministry which is my context. Next, I have been supported by my academic adviser who has spent many hours listening to me change ideas for degrees. Finally, God has given me peace over grades and dropped classes. I know that God is with me on this journey. He called me, and He has been with me placing people to minster to me along the way. Today, I am open to whatever direction God has for me. I am going to finish the MDiv degree in approximately three years. I am sure that God will have doors wide open for me when I am ready to take the next journey for his service.

Tina Teng-Henson, current MDIV student

Tina Teng-Henson

Master of Divinity Student

If you go to Sundance next year with the Windrider Forum, just remember that God is full of surprises… and you don't know what he will churn up inside.

I went with anticipation. I was concerned that 15 films in 5 days would do me in. But I looked forward to theological reflection with Fuller classmates from all the satellite campuses. And I was excited to meet people randomly along the way - people who had found their calling, were pursuing their craft, and singing their song.

But I didn't expect to meet them on screen. For some reason, the characters who stood out to me were women. Mothers of children in families across a wide variety of films: Ethel, Where Do We Go Now?, Finding North, and Raju. I admired Ethel Kennedy's spunkiness and raising eleven kids with Bobby Kennedy...I was inspired by the collective strength and creative shenanigans of Muslim and Christian women who stopped the violence of their men... I ached for the children who grow up hungry in our country...and I was appalled at the sinister underside of international adoption.

I was inspired by these characters - and also the filmmakers who brought these stories to life, the actors who probably had kids but still found ways of pursuing their dreams. Maybe motherhood wouldn't be this totally life-altering thing that would throw off my entire career trajectory -- to be feared and avoided... but was something women did all the time and, in fact, had done for generations just fine. And maybe it was time for me to start that journey.

So, I came home from Sundance unexpectedly rethinking our timeline for kids. Since my husband and I had planned to wait a few more years for children until after I'd finished my MDiv, found a job, and so forth, I never thought God would use a diverse assortment of movies at Sundance to get my attention. But that he did, unearthing desires and inspiring a different kind of faith.

My Sundance epiphany was that the Spirit of God moves throughout all creation, energizing and provoking us in ways impossible to predict. Jesus is always at work in every single person, whether we recognize that or not, and we can trust that he knows what he's doing. The critical invitation to me was to be attentive and have eyes to see and a heart to respond... to notice what he was doing in me and how he was moving. And then, to follow. To follow Jesus where he was going -- and to trust him for what adventures would come.

Tina Teng-Henson is an MDiv candidate at the Menlo Park campus. She is a pastoral intern at Recreate Church in San Jose.

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