Learning from living abroad: Italy and England

Posted: April 8, 2024

Spreading Bibles and Joy

“I would love to be a missionary again,” sophomore Joy Uthmann said. “I thought it was a great experience, and now I can actually help and participate instead of being a little kid on the sidelines watching everything. It’s a great service experience, and I loved it.”

Uthmann lived in Italy until she reached first grade, then moved to England, and now lives here in Minnesota. Joy and her parents traveled Europe as missionaries; bringing hope and security to refugees near them through God’s word.

“At the time, both my mom and my dad worked at a nonprofit organization, called IAFR, which stands for International Association For Refugees,” Uthmann said. IAFR is an international Christian mission agency that ministers to forcibly displaced people and helps after disasters or crises.

Their missionary work provided safe places for refugees to stay and they set up a refugee center in Italy. “There are always Bibles available in different languages as well as Italian in English and that was what my parents did,” said Uthmann.

When Joy lived in Italy, her school experience was a bit rough. “I remember my parents always on the lookout for a better school,” she said.

However, in Southall England, Joy really liked her school experience.

“I actually really enjoyed going to school [in England],” said Uthmann. “Everything was kind of centered around that one subject so we got really deep into it and that was really fun. I believe I learned a lot.”

“I’ve known Joy since she came to the school last year,” said sophomore Josiah Hoffner, a friend of Joy’s. “I remember asking her if she spoke any other languages,” said Hoffner. “I asked her about her parents being missionaries.”

“I wanted to travel before I heard her story,” said sophomore Ruby Brown. “But since she’s always traveling now, it makes me want to travel more.”

Joy Utthman and Ruby Brown met in 9th grade and have been good friends since.

 “We would just sit on the pole vault pit and talk until track started and it was so much fun,” said Brown.

It’s a gift to hear about Joy’s experiences and childhood, and to learn about what being a missionary is like.

“I enjoyed all the people I got to meet,” said Uthmann. “…the refugees themselves were always very kind.”


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