IVEP wasn’t in my plans

Insight from IVEP participant

A man taking a selfie photo while feeding a cow milk from a bottle

Editor’s note: Ivan Misael Barron Kipfer is a 2023-2024 IVEP participant from Bolivia who is serving as a dairy farm employee at Steffen Farms in Apple Creek, Ohio. Top photo: Misael holds a bottle of milk for a calf that he just helped deliver at Steffen Farms. MCC photo/Ivan Misael Barron Kipfer

When asked why I'm here or what was the reason I decided to be part of this IVEP program, my response is always: It wasn't in my plans. If it had been up to me, I wouldn't be here.”

From the beginning, I applied for another program called YAMEN, and halfway through the process, my coordinators switched me to IVEP. Coming to the U.S. wasn't part of my plans.

I remember at that moment I was thinking about withdrawing my application and continuing with my life in my country. My excuse was: Sorry, that's not what I had planned.

I recall a conversation I had with a friend at that time before starting the program. I explained to him the situation, and he said to me, “Misael, do you want to make God laugh? Tell him your plans.”

I was rushing through life, doing things my way, achieving goal after goal, carrying out my plans. It makes me think about how God sees me and says: If only you could see the plans I have for you. If only you could understand what I want to teach you and show you. If only you could trust me and know who I am.”

Now that I'm here, I tell myself: This isn't what I had in mind; it's much better. This isn't what I wanted initially; it's what I needed, and God knew it.

Before starting my year in IVEP, many things happened in my life: I had many decisions to make, many things to let go of and relationships to mend. It's not easy to leave the life one knows, knowing that nothing will be the same upon return. Learning to trust in God was one of the things I was and still am learning.

At that moment, I said to God: God, I don't know what your plan is in all of this; I don't know what you have prepared for me. I admit it's hard for me to trust you; just don't let me go.

From the moment I left my home in Bolivia, from the moment I boarded that plane, God never let go of me. He didn't care about my past, my scars, my sorrows, my burdens or my failures. He never left me alone.

From the beginning of this adventure, I've seen how God takes care of me even in the smallest details, how God uses people to show his care and love, how God already planned the things I needed to learn and how he had prepared the place where he would put me. He cares so much about me that he gives me more than I could have asked for. He gave me a loving family (apparently more than one since I had two host families) and a workplace that I love, where I can learn more about my profession. He gave me friends who are impacting my life. He put the right people at the right time, and he put the right situations at the right time. (I have a word limit to write in this letter; I'm running short to describe how wonderful God is being with me.)

I thought I was coming to give something of myself, to serve, but for the moment, I've received much more than I could have imagined. I've seen how God is working in my life and character; I've seen how my faith in him strengthens day by day; and I feel that every day I need more of God. He keeps working in me, healing my wounds and correcting my mistakes with so much love. I still feel that I don't fully know him, but that's my desire, to know God and his will.

If only we could trust in him. If only we could stop depending on ourselves to depend entirely on him. If only we could trust in him, we would start to know im. If only we could know him, we would come to love him. If only we could come to love him, we would come to obey him.

Do you want to make God laugh? Tell him your plans.