Kali Essner

"Lord God, in the simplicity of my heart I have gladly given You everything."

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Where I serve

University of Texas at Tyler, here I come! Accompanied by my ukulele and knack for adventure, I hope UT is ready to welcome this 4'10" missionary from southeast Missouri! I look forward to spending time with students in Tyler over coffee, in nature, and with lots of laughter. Go Patriots!

My Story

From an early age, I knew I was divinely loved. It was not uncommon for me to pray to the Lord silently throughout the day. I grew up in a home in which our faith was more than a weekly attendance to Sunday mass. Every night before bed, all seven in my family would one by one pray out loud to our Lord, thanking him for the "pretty day" and interceding for friends and family. 

However, upon entering middle school, I realized many kids and their families did not pray. I felt like an outsider and slyly worked my way into the "popular" clique. I  continued on into high school living what one could call a double life. I did the bare minimum to hold my title as a cool kid and stayed involved with my faith through youth group, church camps, and the like.

 
The faith side of my life led me to an encounter with a high school peer named Katie. She captivated me in the way she spoke about our Lord. I knew she had something personal with Him. We became good friends and chose to attend a TEC (Teens Encounter Christ) retreat together. On the retreat, the priest asked us to take turns in our small groups passing around a crucifix, speaking to our Lord whatever came to our hearts. I remember being overwhelmed by what I could imagine were some of our Lord's final words: "I thirst." I knew He thirsted for me.

When I cam to college, I was challenged by a FOCUS missionary to confront this thirst again. I had become lukewarm in my faith in the eye-opening experience of seeing the despair in the culture on campus. No one seemed authentically happy and many just simply did not care. However, at the humble prompt of a FOCUS missionary, I began to pray again daily. Prayer was a simple response to Jesus' cry of thirst that still cries out in every unvisited chapel containing the Eucharist. That response became my lifeblood and my authentic happiness. 


As a missionary, my greatest desire is to lead all students to Christ and console Our Lord's thirsting heart for humanity. My life has been transformed by Jesus over and over as He tirelessly works to "bind my wandering heart to Thee." Knowing the despair of life without Christ, I want nothing more than to bring this joy to others and introduce them to the life-giving message of the Gospel. In His earthly ministry, Jesus humbled Himself to meet us on our level, taking on our humanity, and spent most of His time investing deeply in a few, namely, Peter, James, and John. I look to Jesus’ own example to find the best method of reaching the world. I've been constantly amazed by the different souls I've encountered on campus.

Your Impact

When I answered the call to join FOCUS, I made the decision to rely completely on the spiritual and financial support of mission partners to help me through this mission. I've been blessed with the most amazing people who have journeyed with me as I serve on campus. Please, consider partnering with me and let me know of the best way to reach you so we can schedule an appointment! I'd be honored to share this mission with you.

                                                   [email protected] 

Know, Love and Serve God

We encounter God in an intimate relationship through daily prayer, the sacraments and the Scriptures.

Build Virtuous Friendships

By building genuine friendships, we meet students on a deeper level.

Teach Others to Share Christ

We teach students how to share the gospel, who in turn teach other students how to pass it on …