When Everything Lines Up

By Rachel Greco

God brought Robert Willadsen to JAARS in a roundabout way, turning a stressful, difficult incident into a new opportunity. 

Robert’s university, LeTourneau, closed in March 2020 due to COVID-19. The students had about a week’s notice to leave the campus in Texas for the foreseeable future. Robert would have ordinarily gone home to his parents in California. However, that option wasn’t available.

His parents, Meg and Bud Willadsen, were planning a move to Waxhaw, North Carolina, to serve at JAARS. They had already sold their California house and were hunting for a house in North Carolina. 

As an RA, Robert helped other students pack up and leave while fretting about his living situation. Thankfully, his parents suggested that he could stay with his aunt in New Jersey. Robert lived with her until about May 2020, when his parents found a house in North Carolina and he moved to join them. 

Friends of Robert’s parents connected him with a young man who had served at JAARS. This young man invited him to a movie night, where Robert met JAARS Fellows. “I started learning more about them and what their positions [as Fellows] were, and thought it was an interesting [opportunity].” 

Through his friendships with the Alpha and Bravo Fellow cohorts, Robert was able to peek into what it means to be a JAARS Fellow. But he wasn’t ready to be one yet. He was taking two classes online to finish his computer science degree while volunteering at JAARS at the tech help desk through the autumn of 2020. 

With his graduation looming in December, Robert knew he would need a job. What the other Fellows had said about their experience appealed to Robert. “JAARS Fellows seemed like a really good opportunity as far as first employment after college goes, especially since I was never able to get any internships,” he explained. And the way that everything had lined up—his parents’ move to Waxhaw, his school closure that brought him to join them here, and meeting the Fellows—made it seem that God was pushing him to be a Fellow. 

So Robert applied and joined cohort Charlie as the Training and Technology Fellow* in January 2021. 

Robert (left front) and his fellow Cohort Charlie and Delta Fellows at a recent beach outing.

Robert spends half his time with Learning and Development, helping with the tech side of Zoom trainings. He has also converted some of their materials into videos so they can offer trainings anytime.

With the other half of his schedule, Robert works in the Technology and Business Solutions (TBS) Department, doing much of what he did when he was volunteering: working at the tech help desk. But he has also helped install new wifi access points and worked on other network projects. 

The experience as a Fellow has been stretching for Robert, because most of what he’s doing with Learning and Development is new territory, and a fair amount of what he’s been doing in TBS has been new as well. 

But if given the choice to be the Training and Technology Fellow again, knowing what he now knows, Robert says he would. “It has definitely been a good experience.” He loves the built-in community, especially because he’s not one to naturally make connections with people. “Having that structure to help facilitate [those relationships] is really nice.” 

Praise the Lord for how he lined everything up so that Robert could use his skills and sharpen new ones at JAARS, all for the glory of God. 

If you or someone you know is interested in an opportunity to serve the Lord, click here.  

*As of the writing of this article, this Fellow position has split into two positions: Learning and Development Fellow and Technology and Business Solutions Fellow