Achieving a Dream Together

Written by Lauren Timberlake, Bhutanese ESL Director

Hasta Rai achieved one of her biggest dreams last month. She is now an American citizen.

Hasta is like hundreds of other Bhutanese refugees in Kansas City. She arrived here without a country, an education, or any American friends. She couldn’t speak English and had no ability to read or write. But Hasta was determined to achieve her goal of U.S. citizenship.

As one of our stand out English students, Hasta participated fully in our classes and practiced citizenship material daily in her home. She also attended other English and civics classes offered in our community, taking advantage of every opportunity she had to sharpen her skills. She plugged away at English letters and words, slowly teaching herself to read.

Her work is paying off. After six years in the United States, Hasta knows the 100 possible citizenship exam questions like the back of her hand. She can understand much of what is said to her and is building confidence in her speaking ability. She can read simple sentences and can write personal information and target sentences. It’s truly amazing.

Hasta has made many friends along the way, too. There were five volunteers from Mission Adelante’s English classes at the courthouse for her naturalization ceremony, and several more that were there in spirit. Supporting students and patiently walking beside them as they chip away at their goals is one things our volunteers care deeply about.

Sheri Willt has worked with Hasta since her early days in the United States. She said, “Hasta is an amazing lady who, from the very beginning, set high goals for herself. Since her citizenship in Bhutan was revoked, she was determined to become a U.S. citizen. She has never been one to sit around and feel sorry for herself.  She is always motivated to keep busy by learning

English, knitting, sewing, and taking any class that will help her grow. She looks at the world like a child wanting to take everything in. I love that lady! Hasta’s naturalization ceremony was a day of celebration--celebrating Hasta and her new life in America.”

We are excited as more students like Hasta approach and achieve their goals of U.S. citizenship. It isn’t an easy road, but it’s a dream we can achieve together.

Prayer needs:

  • Visiting the homes of some of our Hindu friends this week reminded several of our staff members of the very real spiritual battle that we are waging. Please pray for safety and wisdom for staff and volunteers, and that God will open the eyes of our Hindu friends to the amazing life Jesus wants to give them.

Current needs:

  • The Bhutanese teens ministry is hosting our first English class this fall and is looking for donated gift cards to use as rewards for students who demonstrate hard work in class. If you would be willing to donate a gift card please contact Hannah Johnson at
  • We are in need of a volunteer driver to take Bhutanese ministry participants home from programming on Tuesday nights in our shuttle bus (no CDL required.) This is a great opportunity to pray over our neighborhood and have personal interactions with our participants, who love our bus drivers!  This volunteer role is from 7:45 pm to 9:15 pm weekly on Tuesday nights starting immediately. If you or anyone you know is interested in serving in this role, please contact Drew Hammond at or 913-710-9953.