WESTMINSTER -- Getting a glimpse of what her future may hold, Allison Liquefato is making her way to Israel.
The 15-year-old Westminster High student, who hopes to become a missionary after college, is taking the first steps toward her dream by joining the Teen Missions program this summer.
"I knew that [missionary work] was what God wanted for me the first semester of this year," Allison said. "I want to go out and help people, rather than just sitting behind a desk."
As one of 30 in Teen Mission's Israel Hebron team, she will help paint and rebuild the roof on a Christian school during the day. At night, the group will evangelize with puppet shows, songs and skits at churches in the area.
Teen Missions, a 22-year-old interdenominational missionary program for youths ages 13 to 23, will send about 1,500 students into 40 countries this year. Young evangelists, usually in groups of 30, work with established missionaries in their area.
"It's really hard to know what they'll be able to do," said Camile Hadlock, a Teen Missions staff member. "In some cities, they set up street meetings, but Israel is a sensitive area. We know for sure they will be sharing the Gospel in local churches and encouraging the believers."
After initially considering missionary work, Allison said she prayed about her desire to determine if it was what God wanted her to do.
"I said, 'If the answer comes through church, then I'll definitely know it's You talking,' " she said.
The priests at St. John Catholic Church were unaware of her desire, but for two weeks after her prayer, the sermon discussed missionary work.
"I felt that was the answer to my prayer, since the sermon had never been about that before," Allison said. "Then, when I got the application, I knew it was it. It was like God was saying, 'These are your first steps. Go for it.' "
She began looking for sponsors to donate $2,790 to cover expenses, but was able to find only $10 and $25 contributors among friends, fellow soccer players and members of St. John's.
The money will be used to pay for her transportation, food and training for the trip.
"There was no major sponsor," said her mother, Patricia. "The people who gave were the ones who could afford it least, a little here and a little there."
Although Teen Missions would have accepted the entire fee on the day of departure, the Liquefatos set 2:30 p.m. June 9 as a personal goal. If Allison had not collected the money at that point, her father said she could not go.
"It really was a step of faith," Allison said, adding that she was $2,000 short the morning of the due date. "I said 'God, if you really want me to go, you'll come up with the money.' "
The final sum came in at the last minute, a present from her grandfather, who had been saving for a trip the two would take to Italy.
"He said if it would make her happy, he would give her the money," her mother said.
The journey started at 3:30 a.m. Friday as she boarded a bus for Florida at Baltimore-Washington International airport. Once there, she began a two-week training session, learning skills to complete the project and preparing the skits and plays she will use in her evangelistic work.
"Each team works on a program unique for that country," Hadlock said. "We also teach them discipline, so that when they go overseas into another culture they won't cause any trouble or have any harm come to them."
Harm is something that Patricia worries about, despite her daughter's faith that all will be harmonious.
"This has me extremely nervous," she admits. "I have to depend on faith right now and not my gut feeling."
But Allison, who will return home in mid-August, says that she is not a bit concerned about traveling and evangelizing in a religiously sensitive country.
"If God wants me to come up with him, he'd take me right now," she said. "But I know he's going to protect me. He wouldn't send me somewhere just to have me get hurt."