“I’m Mallery. I’m 21, and I just got a job at Peet’s Coffee, so I’m a barista. Ilike getting coffee with my friends and hanging out, having good conversations with people. I’m actively involved in my church, and I’m on staff. And I lead a group of girls in high school; so just like, going through life with them, helping them with whatever life problems comes their way.

[My tattoo]’s the Greek word, tetelestai: it means it is finished, paid in full. I went to a Bible school in Germany after I graduated high school, and we were going through the Book of John. The New Testament is written in Greek, so in John, it talks about Jesus dying on the cross. When he dies, his last words are, ‘It is finished,’ but in the text, it says ‘tetelestai.’ And Greek words have a lot of different meanings. Like one word can mean so much and have deep impact, or just a deeper meaning than the translation. Like Greek, the word love – there’s like, three different words for love, and they all mean something completely different. So it was really interesting, learning that word, and when I heard it, and the teacher was telling us about it, I was like, ‘I want that tattooed on my body!’ And a year later, I got it.

I have another one on my ankle. It’s a Bible verse: Psalms 94:18-19. And that says, ‘When my foot was slipping, your steadfast love supported me. When my anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.’ I went through my first breakup, and it happened really abruptly. A friend of mine sent me that verse, and I read it. It brought me so much comfort. I was like, ‘That’s awesome,’ and then later down the road, ‘I should get that as a reminder.’

I went on a missions trip to Ecuador. So before I started to go on that trip, I was kind of just going on it for the opportunity to travel. But then God changed my heart on that. ‘No, I have something greater for you on this trip than just for travelling. I want you to experience what life is like outside of America.’ So that changed my life because I realized one, how selfish I was. And then getting a bigger understanding of what the world is like because we totally live in a bubble here. It’s not about me. It’s about what I can do here for other people.

It was really hard. It was so draining. The weather was so hot and so humid. The food we ate was so bad. It was literally just rice and beans. Experiencing another culture that was so different was really hard too. When I first arrived – they told us beforehand, to prepare us, ‘Okay, their culture is really different. But you have to remember that what they’re doing isn’t right or wrong. It’s just different. It’s just their culture and how they live. You can’t judge them for how they live their life because that’s just who they are.’ We get there, and we’re pulling up on the dock in the boat to get off. There is like, a little dog running around, and I want to say, four year old boy chasing it around with a stick. All of these people watching and cheering. And this boy started killing the dog with the stick. We just got there and all [gasp]. And of course, all of us were imagining – we would never beat our dogs. Like, that’s just okay for them. It was just a shock.

I remember one of the most memorable things from the trip: I was talking to this little boy, and he had this huge open wound on his head. We were asking like, how did you get that – only someone was speaking Spanish – someone hit him with a machete. And then also, it was really cool hanging with the kids. To them, us being there changed their lives. And for us, it’s like, ‘Hey, we’re here. Let’s play some games.’ They loved just being with us, holding our hands, sitting on our laps, touching us – that contact was weird because we don’t really do that. It was a really crazy, awesome experience.

I’m definitely more positive. Like going through the breakup – I don’t know what I would’ve done if I didn’t have God. I feel like I would have just sank so low and so depressed. But having that hope that God has something better for me, and knowing that He orchestrates my life in ways for my betterment and the betterment of others, that just gave me hope. This sucks right now, but joy will come in the morning. He is faithful, and He will provide joy for me later, even though I am being pruned. In the book of John, it talks about the analogy of God being a gardener, and we are the branches. Jesus is the vine. So we all abide from him. And then God will prune us and those are seasons where we will be pruned, like the bad relationship. ‘Cause it actually was a bad relationship, and I’m super thankful that I’m not in it. But it’s painful. But then you grow from that, and you grow stronger. The purpose of pruning roses in the winter is so they can grow being beautiful when its their season.”

Excerpt may be edited for clarity.