Meet Jessica Wildman, a graduating senior who has spent most of her life serving Christ and others as a missionary kid in Russia.
Life as a Missionary Kid
Growing up as a third culture kid and MK (missionary kid) is all I have known. One aspect of being a third culture kid is that you never really fit in anywhere. Outside of the USA, people consider me American. When in the USA, people consider me Russian. I understand the Russian culture better than the American culture. I guess I'm American with a Russian heart; at least that's what they say about me in Russia.
As a MK I have many opportunities to learn flexibility and believe God's miracles on a daily basis. I've also had a lot of experience serving others and traveling. (I'm well-versed in quickly getting through airport security and dealing with jet lag!) My life is never really planned out; in fact, many times it seems quite unstable. However, I am very thankful for the life I have. I get to see life from many different perspectives.
My Time at AOA
Since we traveled a lot, my mother homeschooled both my brother and me while living in Russia. From the fourth grade until high school, we used Switched-On Schoolhouse because it did not involve lugging around textbooks. When my brother was in high school, my parents found out about AOA and enrolled him. Because my brother had such a great experience with AOA, it was natural for me to enroll after my brother graduated.
My favorite part of distance learning is that I can learn at my own pace. My life is filled with the unexpected, and AOA enables me to complete high school despite all of a sudden having to leave the country, or find and move into another apartment, or meet a sudden need that requires my help and attention.
I like Bible because it always relates to my life. This year while taking Christian Faith and Living, I enjoyed learning about the major religions of the world so that I can be better informed about what others believe. I also enjoy English because I have a great English teacher who is very encouraging and helps me do my best.
For the past nine years, I have lived in Ekaterinburg, Russia which is known for its opera, ballet, music schools, theater schools, conservatories, and now has one of the five Federal Russian Universities of the Russian Federation.
After moving to this city, I was enrolled in a Russian music school where I studied piano, music literature, solfeggio (similar to music theory), and sang in the choir. Each year I was required to compose a song; each song I composed sounded very Russian as I grew to love Russian music. I graduated from the seven year program in 2014 with a red diploma, which means with highest honors. After graduation, I have continued helping the music school by doing concerts.
My most memorable experience with the choir was on Russia Day last June. I had the great honor of singing by the river with the largest choir in Russia, which is composed of over 1,000 people. It was pouring rain, and we all got soaked!
Ministry Opportunities in Russia
When I was really little, I travelled with my parents and visited many villages. When we lived in another city, I went with my parents to minister to the homeless street kids. Even when we were just shopping or going about the city, homeless street kids would recognize us and we'd feed them.
After we moved to Ekaterinburg to help start a church, my mom started children's ministry. As the church has grown, so has the children's ministry. I've grown up helping in children's ministry by teaching kids younger than me, coming up with fun games that teach God's word, organizing different classes and making sure each teacher has everything she needs, and participating in puppet skits. I love playing with the children and getting to know them. I know how important it is to acknowledge a child's presence and make him or her feel special.
Now I also lead the praise and worship for children's church, where I singing and playing piano. My brother's in charge of the youth praise and worship team, and I help them as well. Our church also has a children's shelter and does outreaches in orphanages and to families in crises. There are plenty of opportunities to serve here.
Class of 2015 and Beyond
I will not be able to attend any graduation ceremonies in person; however, I am very happy that AOA is doing a virtual graduation ceremony on May 22, 2015. I plan to participate in that one. We as a family participated in my brother's AOA virtual graduation; it was in the middle of the night for us, but it made us feel like part of the graduation.
After graduation, I plan to study Russian in the Russian university here for a year. Then I will most likely go to the U.S. to get a university degree. After that, I plan to come back to Russia to live here. I would love to be a professional musician, be in a band, and be able to play the type of music that I enjoy.
Words of Wisdom
My advice to other AOA students is to know that God is the most important thing in life. Finding His plan for your life ensures you won't waste time or effort on something that you aren't wired to do anyway. So, in all your studies, make sure that you keep spending time with Jesus, learning to hear His voice, and trusting Him with all your heart.