- Associated Press - Saturday, January 18, 2014

GASTONIA, N.C. (AP) - Sierra Roberts is packing a water filter and wedding ring for her trip to Winneba, Ghana. She doesn’t know how easy it will be to find bacteria-free drinking water in the African town.

The unmarried 22-year-old has heard it’s a little too easy to find a husband. Rumors have it that men randomly approach American women there, proposing marriage in hopes of moving to the United States.

Roberts will teach music classes at Pan African Christian University College. She’ll live on campus, interact with students and serve as a French-to-English translator. It’s not a low-cost trip.

And of the $5,000 she’s raised to make the journey, $4,000 came from a barbecue fundraiser this month. A hundred people bought plates and placed bids in a silent auction to help pay for Roberts’ travel.

‘Something to do’: Roberts has wanted to travel the world as a Christian missionary since childhood. “I couldn’t even spell missionary and I wrote down that’s what I wanted to do” she said.

After graduating from Davidson College last May, she found herself without a job but wanting to pursue her dream of teaching music. “I was looking for something to do with my life,” she said.

She met Elaine Stewart, a Dallas woman who Roberts said has traveled to West Africa as a missionary for several decades.

They formed a friendship and Roberts was soon making arrangements to join Stewart on her next expedition. They will travel to Africa with others from the nonprofit Christian Ministries International, Roberts said.

Her ultimate goal is to become a professor and teach while serving as an overseas missionary.

“If you can make differences in peoples’ lives, that has to be the greatest feeling in the world, knowing that you’ve helped somebody,” she said.

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Information from: The Gaston Gazette, http://www.gastongazette.com