GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- A West Michigan teen is planning to do missionary work in Papua New Guinea early next year to spend time with children who are orphaned, many by HIV and AIDS.
Endykah Bates, 18, is a graduate of Forest Hills Eastern High School. Instead of going to college right away, she has different plans to help change the lives of children half a world away.
"In January I will be travelling to Australia, I will be based there for 3 months getting the discipleship training, which is a lecture phase and outreach phase," Bates said.
From there, Bates plans to go to Papua New Guinea, helping orphaned children and spreading the gospel. While she hasn't gone yet, she has worked with children with special needs at a local non-profit and kids at a camp.
"I worked at a camp, Camp Tall Turf... It's for kids who are kind of at-risk. At-risk kids in the city, we take them up north... teach them how to get along with each other, how to get along with others, to love themselves."
Love is a message she's hoping to bring to orphans across the globe.
"Just to show them the love they deserve and a love of God too, and bring the gospel to them and just to help them so they know they aren't alone in the world," Bates said.
While she doesn't plan to go to school just yet, it is in the future for her. She says right now, it's time to follow a dream.
"I just have a strong pull to do this instead," she said. "I want to do something bigger, not to say college isn't big at all, I just feel as if this is more important for me to do right now."
It's a feeling that her mom Zenia fully supports.
"It's a big deal and I'm glad she's following through with it," said Zenia Bates.
"I would say any teen or youth, to follow your dreams, whether it would be a missionary or to be a doctor or to have a shelter" Zenia said. "Just whatever your passion is I would advise them to go for it, to obtain it and even if you don't reach it, at least you tried and then you won't live in regret."
Endykah has worked three jobs trying to raise money for her missionary trip. She has also set up a GoFundMe page to raise additional funds for the trip.