Missionary moments: Teacher to student

Dr. Jane Mikoni always considered Dan Kindrick a "non-traditional student." As an Iraq War veteran, he was not the average age of most others in her class and he always seemed interested in discussing various subjects with her — including religion.

Dr. Mikoni's classroom had always been an open forum of ideas, yet she wasn't sure she wanted to have the discussions this student seemed to be after. Still, she let him talk and she listened each time.

A few weeks after one of these poignant conversations, Dr. Mikoni's husband passed away.

The next few months were difficult. Instead of turning from God, however, Dr. Mikoni decided to pray and ask for strength.

The weeks passed, fall semester ended and another began. One night in January, while home sick with bronchitis, Dr. Mikoni heard a knock at the door.

Opening the door, she saw two missionaries standing on her doorstep. "Are you Dr. Mikoni?" they asked. She replied that she was.

"We came to check up on you. Dan Kindrick, your student, is worried about you," they said. Then they asked if they could come inside.

It took a moment for the professor to realize what they were saying. But when she heard the name "Dan," Dr. Mikoni knew she should not have been surprised.

Still, in her mind she thought, "What is wrong with this student? Doesn't he know I could fail him if I wanted to? I could even embarrass him." But then another thought came: "He knows I could fail him and he's taking a huge risk and I need to listen." Once more, as she had done many times with Dan Kindrick, Dr. Mikoni stayed and listened.

Discussions followed about the Plan of Salvation and eternal families. As she felt the Spirit, Dr. Mikoni felt less like a teacher and more like a student. She realized that in this setting, her Ph. D. didn't matter, nor did the difference in age between her and the missionaries. In the discussions, the English professor found the words she had struggled to find to describe her feelings of the last few months.

A month later, she was baptized.

Dan Kindrick has since left Penn State Harrisburg, but Sister Mikoni will always remember his dedication to missionary work and his courage to take a risk on his professor. — Chris A. Morales

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