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She's discovered where she is supposed to be

Tanna Howie.

Two months ago, Tanna Howie wasn't sure what her next step in life was going to be. The 2010 Farmington High School graduate had hoped to attend the Art Institute in Minneapolis this year, but when the finances didn't work out, she was left without a clear direction.

So, she waited, she prayed and she hoped to figure out what she was supposed to do with her life.

Now, all of a sudden that next step is turning into an intercontinental leap of faith. In the span of about eight weeks, Howie has gone from uncertainty to a flurry of planning and preparation for six months of study and missionary work in South Africa. The way it has all come together makes her all the more certain it's what she is supposed to do.

Howie heard about the opportunity at Bizweni Community College from a friend who had been planning for a year to spend a semester there. Howie checked out the school and liked what she saw.

"(My friend) brought it up to me and just was telling me about the opportunity there and the art classes and the ministry classes," Howie said. "What I want to be is an art teacher and minor in ministry.... We would be taking classes in those exact things."

Howie still didn't have the $1,600 she'd need for a plane ticket or the $600 a month she'd need to pay for her classes. But she found plenty of help, often in unexpected places. Her friend told people at her church about Howie, and donations started coming in. Her plane ticket is paid for now. So are some of her expenses. A cousin's friend has put together a fundraiser that will take place next week at the Farmington American Legion to help cover some of the other costs.

"I don't even really know her that well," Howie said. "I'm just kind of randomly throwing everything together. So far, it's been falling into place. That's how I know it's what I'm supposed to do."

Howie still needs to get her Visa finalized before she leaves Jan. 16, but given the way things have gone so far, she is confident that will work out.

Howie has been on week-long mission trips in Mexico and Jamaica with Farmington's River Church, but she knows this will be a whole new experience. She will attend classes, but she'll also spend time doing missionary work. She'll do outreach in high schools and help feed the poor both in the area around the school and elsewhere in Africa.

She likes the idea she'll get to experience something entirely new.

"It's just (a chance) to take a step out in faith and just give myself totally to the Lord and step out of my comfort zone," she said. "It's the fact of leaving what I have behind and sacrificing myself.

"I'm looking forward to the classes, just learning more about God's word and really expressing myself through art, like photography and painting. I'm excited to meet new people."

Howie's semester in Africa won't answer all of her questions about the future. She still doesn't know what she'll do when she comes home in July. But she has faith she'll find an answer somewhere along the way.

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

(651) 460-6606