Students are coming to the I-WORK Office more now, according to senior missionary couple William and Mary Jane Card, because they have treated the students as their own to build trust.
“They thought you [only] come to the I-WORK Office if you’re in trouble, and we didn’t want that. So we knew we had to make an environment where they feel comfortable. That’s when we started introducing food so we could get them in there and talk to them,” said Elder Card.
He said they knew they needed students to be able to trust them in order to have them come in, and “so if we were going to spend some time with them, it would be great to have something to offer them like a piece of bread. From there, we get an opportunity to talk to them.”
Sister Card added, “How can you ask a student to do a great job at work if he’s hungry? And so I said, ‘We got to feed these kids.’ I don’t want anybody to be hungry, ever. As long as I’m here in the Lord’s errand of work, there’s no kid who’s going to get hungry.”
To help make decisions about how they can help students, Elder Card said they think of each student’s situation as if that student
was their very own daughter. He said, “We would want to know that somebody is taking care of her.”
Some students are somewhat embarrassed to be in the I-WORK program, according to Elder Card. “So I said we got to turn that little dial a little bit. That’s why we instituted the student of the week where students get featured in the PCC newspaper. Through that, they can develop a sense of pride that they’re I-WORK students.
“It’s fun too being on this mission because of our ward back home. The student of the week gets a McDonald’s gift card and we told our ward at home about it. They rallied and they gave us enough gift cards to accomplish our mission.”
The couple’s responsibility is to help I-WORK students with whatever problems they might have, according to Sister Card.
She said, “Our real calling is to do anything we can to help the students succeed whether it’s academic, physical, a problem at church
or [their] job. That’s what the I-WORK Office is. It doesn’t matter if it’s academic or anything, we want to be there for the kids. Our job is to make sure we are there as much as we can be so they can be successful here and go back to their country.”
Elder Card explained part of the I-WORK Program is to bring out the academic and church leadership potential in the students. “By coming here, it helps them build their testimonies and develop [into] future church leaders besides contributors to the community,” he added.
After they retired as educators, the Cards thought it was time to go on a mission, said Sister Card. “We didn’t want to go on a proselyting mission because we’ve already been on that. We also thought to do a CES position, but we were looking for something different.” She continued, “We were [then] called as program specialists for the I-WORK Program and assigned at PCC.”
With a huge love for young people, Sister Card said this mission was and is perfect for them.
She said, “Every single day is different. We are so lucky to have the best calling at PCC because we get to know kids from all over the world, their culture, and their background.”
Lara Cobing, a freshman with an undeclared major from the Philippines, said the Cards are like her parents here in Hawaii and the people she looks up to. “They are a living reminder of why I came here in the first place,” she said. “From the conversations I have with them, I admire their love for the Lord and for us I-WORK students. They take care of us and make sure we are being responsible for ourselves.”
When asked to describe the Cards, Cobing explained, “They are true disciples of Christ. I remember one general authority saying that a hallmark of a true disciple of Christ is charity. They demonstrate their love through action and through words as well.”
Elder Card shared how their mission is a testimony builder for them. “We know we’ve been called of the Lord and that we receive personal revelation. It’s amazing to get answers from the Spirit on how we can help the kids.”
One thing they’ve learned during their mission is they don’t have to have material things to be happy, said Sister Card. “That’s not really what it’s all about. Most of the kids come with very little material things, but they’re always happy,” she added.
“I told Elder Card that because I’ve had a blessed life, I never had to worry about my needs. I’ve learned that Heavenly Father expects me to give to the students because I’ve been blessed. When I give a piece of bread to the kids, they would be grateful and humble 10 times over for the person doing it for them.”
She also shared how she’s marveled at the work ethic of students. “They carry a full school load, work for 19 hours, and many of them get up at 5 a.m. on a Saturday morning to volunteer in the temple. That’s the only day they get to sleep in and do whatever they want until they have to go to work, but they choose to spend it at the temple.”
“The kids came here with big dreams and I know they can achieve every single one of them. They inspire me to be a better person everyday. Through hard work and staying close to the gospel, they can do anything they want,” continued Sister Card.
NOTE: This article's publication was delayed because it was featured in the Sept. 2017 print issue.