An Interview with Student Missionary Justin Corral
By Summer Boulais
Justin Corral, a junior biology pre-medicine major, was a student missionary last year at Milo Adventist Academy in southern Oregon. He originally planned to serve as a medical assistant in the Philippines, but when this plan did not work out, he reached out to his old high school. Corral was tempted to not SM anymore, but he felt called to go and received an email back from Milo within two hours. “It felt like the door just swung open,” said Corral. 
The position open for Corral at Milo was doing farming as an agricultural assistant for the school. An additional job of supervising the cafeteria was offered in exchange for housing, food, and an allowance of $500 at the end of each month. Corral took on this role without realizing the hindering effect it would have on accomplishing his original goals.
Supervising the cafeteria during meals involved making sure students wore their mask when they were not eating and enforcing social distancing. Corral felt his purpose at Milo was to create strong connections and reach out to as many students as possible. This was hard to accomplish while restricting students from being near each other due to COVID-19 regulations.
Despite Corral’s new purpose of helping to protect students from getting sick, he created a couple of one-on-one connections with students. In addition, he was able to reconnect with his sister who attended Milo that he had not seen in five years. “I would take her to doctors’ appointments or help buy groceries. I’d drive her sometimes up to twice a week just to chat with each other,” Corral explained.  Corral left his home in Mexico when he was 16 to study in the U.S., which left his sister feeling distanced from him physically and emotionally.
The expectations of Corral’s time as an SM changed during the 10 months he was there. Looking back, Corral feels he could have connected more with students rather than focusing on being a good worker for his boss. It was hard to decide what his purpose there was.
Corral experienced a lot of personal growth while ministering to others. Corral described, “I learned how to be happy and feel joy when I was alone.”  He would often be working in the field in the morning and night alone. The first three months proved to be challenging, leading to trying new things like listening to podcasts. “I became more stable with God alone and learned how to be happy on my own,” Corral stated. 
In the end, Corral felt the year was good and that he had more time and connection with God. He proved to have multiple purposes there. This included working hard in the field, spending time with students by playing guitar at worship, and becoming a “COVID-19 officer” to ensure safety.
A piece of advice for those interested in becoming an SM is to reach out to at least one person and intentionally create a connection with them. “I found one or two people I created a mutual ministry with it,” Corral reminisced. 
Often, student missionaries will have a spiritual high on their time away. They can come back to a culture shock or immense feeling of emptiness. Corral experienced the opposite with the change of plans and occurrence of COVID-19.
The trials Corral experienced happened while he was trying to find his purpose as an SM, but the results of his time were beneficial. Corral began to rekindle his relationship with his sister, learned to be happy alone despite his extroverted personality, and strengthened his relationship with God.
- Interview with Justin Corral, 10/5/2021.