Dilemma of a Design Student


Originally from Australia, Coral Camps writes from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, where she and her husband, Doug, have been serving as volunteer missionaries since March 2006. Doug teaches cabinet-making skills, while Coral divides her time between being his personal assistant and teaching conversational English to some of the locals.

Usually when Boloro wanted something she would smile. But today she was serious.

My final exam is on Sabbath,” she said. “Please, would you ask my school director if I can take my exam on Sunday?”

I was so happy that she had chosen to be strong and faithful to her God!  But what would I say to the director?  I had met her several times over the past four years of Boloro’s course in clothing design. I had also marveled at Boloro’s ability to sew garments with such precision, especially the intricate Mongolian national dells she’d produced while living with us. She deserved to do well.

I claimed the promise in Exodus 4:12, “I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say,” a memory verse I had learned as a child. I prayed constantly, “Lord, please give me the words to speak!”  

The director was as friendly as usual. But when I explained why Boloro wanted to do her exam on Sunday she was adamant. It was just impossible. This was a government exam and totally out of her control. The examiners would come to the school only on this one day. There was nothing she could do to change that. I understood. This was an oral exam. Boloro could not do her exam apart from those teachers. 

“There are 48 students to be tested on Saturday,” the director told me, “and we allow an average of 15 minutes for each one of them. I cannot really say when they will finish.”  

“So if they start at 9 a.m., maybe they won’t finish until after sundown,” I said, “Could she be tested last?”

“I really can’t guarantee that,” the director answered. “Can’t she just do the exam this year and worship her God next year? It’s impossible to change anything now.”  

“I realize that it’s impossible for you to do anything,” I said. “But I will pray to my God and ask Him to fix this problem.”  At this the director stood up and ushered me out of the room.

I continued to pray for Boloro and emailed many friends to support me – people from Australia, America, everywhere. In the meantime, Boloro’s classmates could not believe her attitude. “What kind of God is this,” they asked her, “who would not let you finish your course just because your exam is on Saturday?”  On Sabbath morning Boloro sent a text message to her class teacher. It read, “I can’t come today. Don’t worry.”  Her teacher replied, “What?  This choice is crazy. Come to school!”  Boloro also sent her family a message saying, “I can’t go to school today.”  Her sister was so upset, she rang me. “Boloro tells me she’s not planning to do her exam today. Even if she did the exam next year, it might be held again on Saturday, then what?”

Boloro’s sister is a very committed Christian who knows her Bible. I reminded her that God has promised that if we honor Him, He will honor us, like he did for Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. But she still thought Boloro was making a mistake.

Boloro went to church as planned. After church she received many messages from her teachers and director, saying, “Come to school. We are waiting for you. Hurry!” Her teachers were very worried. They really wanted all their students to pass.

At 3 p.m., Boloro’s class teacher sent her a message, “Come quickly! There is still time for you to do your exam.”  Boloro replied, “I really want to do my exam but I will come to school after sundown.”  At 6 p.m. her diploma teacher called her. This woman was known to be easily angered. “Where are you?” she asked. “I will come soon,” said Boloro. The teacher hung up with an exasperated sigh.

Just after sundown Boloro went to school. She was amazed to find that 15 of her classmates had not yet taken their exam although it was already so late. Her friends could hardly believe it. Every year the clothing designers were examined first, and the shoe designers second. “Your God must be a strong God because this year the shoe designers were examined first,” they told her. They were beginning to see what kind of God she had!

“At 2 a.m., I did my exam,” Boloro told me. “The government teachers had already gone home. They were just too tired. So now there were only the director and two other teachers to question me about my work. But my director didn’t check my work. She spent half the time talking about religion. ‘The Mongolian government allows religious freedom so if you want to believe in Christ that’s okay,’ she told me, ‘but on examination day, if you don’t do the exam, your work of four years will be wasted. Your belief is so strange. I don’t want you to fail your exam, but I’m not happy. Next time you think about that!’  I just smiled. It was a long ten minutes. I was so happy when it was all over.”

At 3:30 a.m., the last student finished her exam. At 4:00 a.m., the students’ results were announced just as the light of a new morning began filtering through the window. Boloro got a B, but more amazing than that, she had her wish. She had done her exam on Sunday. And God had done the impossible for her.

Adventist volunteer service 

(AVS) is a non-profit, humanitarian organization that is designed to assist the Seventh-day Adventist Church in proclaiming the gospel to people everywhere through the ministry of Adventist Volunteers.  Adventist volunteers may serve as pastors, ESL teachers, school librarians, computer technicians, orphanage workers, and more.  If you are interested in serving as a volunteer, please visit our Website (www.AdventistVolunteers.org) to apply.

Twenty years ago we had no members in Mongolia. Today we have more than 1,000.

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