Never give up
Young vet nurse is no longer worried about the future
A challenging year spent away at the third-world tropical islands of Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands introduced Hayley Budge to a whole new world and yet as she returned to Australia she had no idea what she was supposed to do.
Her father, an experienced civil engineer, worked for AusAid to help with new planning of roads for Vanuatu's residents.
The year away was eye-opening but not without its difficulties as Hayley struggled with being so far from the life she was used to. Despite this she found the experiences to be amazing and the rich culture fascinating.
"I learned a lot about how the Ni-Vans people lived, and I was amazed at their open, friendly and generous ways as well as their culture and way of life," Hayley says.
"I spent a lot of time with a few close friends because there were a small number of English-speaking people around my age. We went to a lot of amazing places, and some of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen."
Going back to a less adventurous life in Australia led to difficulties in working out what her purpose in life was.
"I had to start from scratch again, such as finding something to study, finding a job, and even in some cases I had to start again with friends.
"Back in Perth, I found myself drifting. I was raised in a Christian family, but I no longer wanted to spend any time thinking about God or what He intended for my life," she admits.
Although she had no plan for what she wanted to do, Hayley says many "really amazing coincidences" showed her God was not giving up on her.
"After some time, I finally realised this was part of God's plan. I gave church another go and joined a Bible study held in a coffee shop, which I am so grateful for."
As she studied God's goodness Hayley realised she had placed her trust in the wrong place.
"I was trusting in my ability and knowledge, when I should be trusting God.
"I was motivated to do this because of God's love for us. He never gives up on us – He is always there helping us to make the right choices."
Although she had known about God since she was a child, Hayley knew she needed to reaffirm her commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ.
"At a young age, I had accepted Jesus' gift of taking onto Himself all the wrongs I had done. And now, at age 18 I confessed to God that I had wandered from Him and asked for His forgiveness.
"Even though I can never be perfect, God still loves us and through the perfect life of God the Son, Jesus, I am saved and appear as perfect in God's sight."
Now Hayley continues, "I am learning all I can about God's will for my life. I still do not know what is ahead for me, but I am no longer worried about it.
"I know I can trust God's plan and I look forward to what He will do with my life."
One of Hayley's favourite verses says, "Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint" (Isaiah 40, verse 31).
"This verse reminds me what God has done for me and what He will do for anyone who believes in Him," Hayley concludes. Now a qualified vet nurse, she has found employment as a wildlife park keeper.